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Taika Waititi’s ‘Next Goal Wins’ Receives A Heartwarming Premiere At TIFF

Taika Waititi's 'Next Goal Wins' Premieres At Toronto Film Festival

Taika Waititi made a triumphant return to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with his latest work, “Next Goal Wins.” This heartwarming underdog soccer story, featuring the American Samoa team, received an enthusiastic response from the audience.

During the premiere, Waititi was joined on stage by real-life figures from the film, including Thomas Rogen, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, and Jaiyah Saelua, the first openly non-binary and trans-woman to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Taika Waititi’s ‘Next Goal Wins’ Spotlights Underdog Soccer Team and Unique Stories


Taika Waititi premiered his film “Next Goal Wins” at TIFF, inspired by the American Samoa soccer team’s journey following their infamous 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001. In the film, they hire Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) to revive their fortunes.

Waititi, known for his humor, marveled at the unusual sports story. He also saw it as a chance to showcase Pacific Islanders on screen, a rare opportunity when he was growing up. Jaiyah Saelua spoke of the transformative impact of their historic win in 2011, creating a diversity program.

TIFF Audience Award Prospects of “Next Goal Wins”: A Heartfelt Sports Film

Source: Searchlight Pictures

Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” is a heartfelt sports film reminiscent of ’80s and ’90s classics. Waititi makes a cameo appearance as a Christian preacher in the movie. In 2019, at TIFF, he received a standing ovation and the Grolsch Audience Award for “Jojo Rabbit,” ultimately winning an Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

With “Next Goal Wins,” Waititi could be in line for another Audience Award, given the film’s touching narrative and his previous success.