"Next Goal Wins"

Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” will have its world premiere at TIFF

The first world premiere for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been announced, with Taika Waititi’s ‘Next Goal Wins’ debuting at this year’s festival.

The highly anticipated sports comedy is directed and co-written by Waititi. “Next Goal Wins” will have its world premiere at the 48th annual film festival, which runs from September 7 to 17.

“We are thrilled to welcome Taika back to the festival and share her bold take on the world’s most popular sport,” TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey said in a press release. “‘Next Goal Wins’ is perfect for TIFF fans of the beautiful game looking for their fix of soccer…”

“Next Goal Wins” is based on the 2014 documentary of the same name and follows American Samoa’s soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA defeat in 2001. As the World Cup qualifiers approach, the team takes on -fortune , maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), hoping he will transform the worst soccer team in the world.

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Will Arnett and Elisabeth Moss also star in the Searchlight Pictures version, alongside Oscar Knightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale, Uli Latukefu, Semu Filipo and Lehi Falepapalangi.

Of note, Arnett replaced Armie Hammer in the role of a football executive. Moss plays Coach Rongen’s wife. Samoan-New Zealand actor Knightley is the head of American Samoa’s soccer federation. Actor Kamaina plays trans soccer player Jaiyah Saelua, whose relationship with coach Rongen is a big part of the film, as previously teased by writer-director Waititi.

This marks Waititi’s return to TIFF following the 2019 premiere of Academy Award-winning “Jojo Rabbit,” for which he won the TIFF People’s Choice Award. Waititi also received the TIFF Ebert Director Award.

Waititi likened “Next Goal Wins” to being the “’Cool Runnings’ of football,” telling Entertainment Weekly earlier this year, “I had never done a sports movie before, and I really wanted to give it a try. Talk about a sport I don’t know much about. Rugby is the national sport in New Zealand, but it’s about underdogs, and I love underdog stories. Most of my films are about people who live on the margins, or who are a bit left out, and that suited me perfectly.”

“Next Goal Wins” is produced by Waititi, Jonathan Cavendish, Garrett Basch, Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. The film will be released by Searchlight Pictures on November 17.