A young girl’s commitment to a science project investigating worm farming wins her a trophy, but creates tension within her traditional Samoan family.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT – JUSTINE SIMEI-BARTON
“The film is a study of the immigrant Samoan community I grew up in and it shows aspects of that community that are seldom given a voice. The community and family life is seen through the eyes of twelve year old KASA who finds she can rise above the harshness of her daily existence by throwing herself into a school science project.
Film and media representations of such communities almost always focus on the most spectacularly dysfunctional aspects of these neighbourhoods – the gang culture, crime, alcohol, drugs and the extremes of domestic violence. The Trophy offers an alternative view by looking at the experience and aspirations of an ordinary working class immigrant family.
Through my involvement with a number of film and TV drama projects I have become interested in how the processes of mainstream film making tend to exclude the voices of the community that is being represented on screen. This project addresses the imbalance by using a film making approach that allows a marginalised community to tell their own stories in their own way.
To achieve this I made sure the film was a genuine collaboration between my production team and the students and wider community around Mangere College - a school that serves one of the poorest areas in New Zealand. The cast were all drawn from this community and the college students worked alongside the experienced professionals in my production team. I was also concerned to show how KASA’s personal drama is embedded within the fabric of a wider community. I have tried to create a balance between engagement with her personal story and heightening awareness of the particular cross-cultural context from which her story has arisen.
I believe the film deals with themes that are particularly relevant at a time when there is growing hostility and misunderstanding between immigrant communities and the countries that host them.”