Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, and Oscar Kightley star in Taika Waititi’s comedy about the American Samoa soccer team’s attempt to make a World Cup — 12 years after their infamous 31-0 loss in a 2002 World Cup qualifying match.


Special Presentations

Next Goal Wins

Taika Waititi

Whip-smart, playful, and deeply rooted in Pacific culture, Taika Waititi is the perfect filmmaker to adapt the unlikely true story of Next Goal Wins. Last at the Festival in 2019 with Jojo Rabbit, which won TIFF's People's Choice Award before scoring the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Waititi brings his irresistible mix of big emotion and hilarity to tell the tale of a soccer team best known for being absolutely hopeless.

The nation of American Samoa (population 45,000) was never going to be an international football powerhouse, but a 31-0 loss to Australia put them in the record books in the worst possible way. Dutch-American manager Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) lands in the slow-paced island community determined to inject footballing discipline into the team as they make a qualifying run for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

But even if the outcome — chronicled in a documentary by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison — is known, the pleasure comes from watching the characters on the pitch, Indigenous Samoan players who mostly sucked, mostly knew it, and still played their hearts out.

Fassbender is the star here, in a rare comic turn, but the discovery is Kaimana, who plays real-life team member Jaiyah. Like Jaiyah, Kaimana is a member of American Samoa's fa’afafine community and delivers a performance that's warm, deep, and commanding in every scene.

Like Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Next Goal Wins is rich with both Waititi's sideways humour, and his embrace of the weird, vulnerable, and unpredictable in all of us.


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival


Sun Sep 10

VISA Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre

Mon Sep 11

Scotiabank 2

Tue Sep 12

VISA Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre

Thu Sep 14

Royal Alexandra Theatre

Sat Sep 16

Scotiabank 13