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Taika Waititi on ‘Next Goal Wins’ and his quest to quit Hollywood

by Sophia Chen
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Filmmaker

Taika Waititi’s film, “Next Goal Wins,” diverges from the typical sports movie formula, focusing on the underdog story of the 2011 American Samoa men’s soccer team, notorious for a 31-0 defeat against Australia. Unlike traditional sports films, this movie takes a deconstructionist approach, emphasizing the charisma of its Polynesian cast, including Michael Fassbender as the coach and trans player Jaiyah Saelua portrayed by Oscar Kightly and Kaimana.

Waititi, known for his unique storytelling, acknowledges that his films are increasingly challenging the norm of feel-good cinema. He believes that escapism is the essence of cinema, making the deviation from the usual sports movie conventions a risk worth taking.

While Waititi admits to not being a soccer enthusiast, he is passionate about telling stories about people and families. He emphasizes that family, to him, is not solely defined by blood, highlighting the importance of adoption in shaping a person’s identity.

In discussing the portrayal of Indigenous people in “Next Goal Wins” and his series “Reservation Dogs,” Waititi stresses the need for authenticity and humor. He believes that films about specific cultures should be made by people from those cultures to avoid misrepresentation and stereotypes.

Assembling a cast of Indigenous actors for a production shot in Hawaii provided Waititi with a pleasant working experience. He humorously mentions his preference for comfortable work environments, contrasting it with those who seek extreme challenges in filmmaking.

Regarding his workload and future projects, Waititi remains enigmatic, refusing to confirm or deny his involvement in a “Star Wars” film. He views the ongoing writer and actor strikes as a welcome break, allowing him to reconsider his approach to work.

Despite his successful career in Hollywood, Waititi contemplates the idea of quitting and pursuing a simpler life by the beach. He reflects on the illusion of show business glamour and envisions a future where he can peacefully sand a piece of wood while gazing at the sea.

In summary, Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” represents his unconventional approach to filmmaking, focusing on people and their stories over traditional sports movie tropes. As he contemplates a potential departure from Hollywood, he seeks a more tranquil and fulfilling life by the beach, far removed from the world of lukewarm office meals and relentless work.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Filmmaker

What is the focus of Taika Waititi’s film “Next Goal Wins”?

“Next Goal Wins” focuses on the underdog story of the 2011 American Samoa men’s soccer team as they strive to qualify for the FIFA World Cup after a notorious 31-0 defeat against Australia. It takes a unique, deconstructionist approach to sports movies, emphasizing the charisma of its Polynesian cast.

How does Taika Waititi view his own films in comparison to traditional feel-good cinema?

Waititi sees his films as feel-good movies but believes that making such films is becoming less common and more of a risky endeavor in the industry. He considers escapism to be a fundamental aspect of cinema and believes it’s essential to provide a departure from the norm.

What are Taika Waititi’s thoughts on family and adoption?

Waititi’s view of family is not solely based on blood ties. He believes that adoption is a great thing because it’s not about where you come from but who raises you. He thinks it’s important to raise children to be accepting and not propagate harmful ideologies.

How does Taika Waititi approach the portrayal of Indigenous people in his work?

Waititi stresses the importance of authenticity and humor in portraying Indigenous people in his work. He believes that films about specific cultures should be made by individuals from those cultures or with a deep understanding of them to avoid stereotypes and misrepresentation.

What is Taika Waititi’s perspective on his career and the possibility of quitting Hollywood?

Waititi expresses contemplation about quitting Hollywood. He sees the industry differently from its glamorous image and envisions a simpler life by the beach. He welcomes the writer and actor strikes as an opportunity to reassess his work and future projects.

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