Directed by Academy Award® Winner Taika Waititi, the heartfelt comedy “Next Goal Wins,” starring Michael Fassbender, will be released in theaters by Searchlight Pictures on November 17, 2023.
Based on a true story, “Next Goal Wins” follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamously known for their brutal 31-0 loss in 2001.
With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy.
The team’s story starts April 11, 2001 at The International Sports Stadium in Coffs Harbour, Australia. Australia sets the world record for the largest victory in an international football match in a 31-0 thrashing, and the American Samoa football team becomes the laughingstock of the sports world following this defeat in the World Cup.
The American Samoa team remained the lowest ranking in the FIFA world standings until November 2011, when things finally changed and the tiny island achieved its first-ever international victory in a 2-1 win over Tonga during the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) World Cup Qualification.
When Waititi learned about the epic failure and the story of an underdog team whose dreams finally come true, he knew he had to make this film.
“You’re always looking for inspiration, but with this one, it was all already there,” Waititi, who also co-wrote the screenplay, says.
Waititi and his producers assembled an impressive cast of familiar faces and newcomers, drawing upon a large and diverse group of actors representing the Polynesian Triangle – the region of the Pacific Ocean with the islands of Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand at its corners.
These actors include Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale, Uli Latukefu, Semu Filipo, and Lehi Falepapalangi.
The cast also includes the formidable acting talents of not only Fassbender, but Elisabeth Moss and Will Arnett. And the film has comedic cameos from Rhys Darby, Angus Sampson, and Luke Hemsworth.
Featuring clips from the film interspersed with an interview with Waititi, this trailer gets to the heart of the film: