Red, White & Brass (2023)

The church, respect for your elders and community are very strong themes in the lives of Tongan people. These values don't diminish when they emigrate to live in another country. In some ways the need for a cohesive community in a foreign land makes these themes more important as they adopt new cultural morals and incorporate work and leisure activities into their new lives. In 2011 the Rugby Union World Cup was held in New Zealand for the second time. The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) urges the people to support all teams with as much fervor as they would the New Zealand national team. Rugby is one of the leisure activities Tongan youngsters play in bare feet with a rolled up jersey for a ball, now there is a World Cup with two powerhouse teams, New Zealand and France, in the same pool as Tonga. It is an opportunity for all Tongans to showcase their proud warrior spirit and culture on a world stage. Maka and Veni are determined to go to the game to be held between France and Tonga in their hometown at the Wellington stadium that is commonly referred to as "The cake tin" because of its shape. Maka is the typical comic family member who has lots of dreams but does not put in the work to make them come true, Veni is younger, has a good job, but does not speak Tongan. Maka tries to make money for tickets through cultural performances and donations, when this does not work Veni tries to buy a ticket for himself which is really not the Tongan way, nor the Polynesian way. Maka tries to buy tickets that turn out to be counterfeit and just brings him further shame and disdain from his parents and family members. They are left with no tickets and no way to see the game live. The Wellington council and the NZRU want the Rugby World Cup to be a celebration of cultures within the rugby community so they offer Maka and Venis church group an opportunity to perform before the match against France with free tickets on the halfway line for performers and family members. Maka tries to enlist the help of the church group to makeup a Brass band to perform before the game. Church members are skeptical of Makas ability but true to his dreamer spirit he persists. Makas mother rescues a newly arrived Tongan immigrant from some would be gangster Polynesians and Maka and Veni find he played the coronet in a band back in Tonga so they have a teacher. As they progress in the 4 weeks they have to find and learn band instruments they learn a lot about themselves while still satisfying the church, their parents and their community. This is a very wholesome family movie; there was not one swearword. There is no love interest or romance. It touches on a lot of family issues and connections to culture that are common to a lot of cultures. The story itself, while simple, is very funny, touching and well made. It moves along at a good pace and while the jokes and themes are typically Tongan/Polynesian and sometimes typically New Zealand, they are universally funny and translate well. Some of the Nuances only Polynesians or New Zealanders would pick up on but people in the theatre will still laugh especially the children. In September 2023 Tonga will again feature in the Rugby World Cup to be held in France, but this time Tongan players who have played for other nations are being permitted to play for Tonga. They should be a very strong team.
  • 23 Mar 2023 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
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  • N/A Writer:
  • Damon Fepulea'i Director:
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