Red, White & Brass – A stellar ensemble of Tongan talent coming to NZ cinemas this March

From the producers of The Breaker Upperers, Cousins and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Red, White & Brass is the debut feature film for director Damon Fepulea’i who co-wrote with co-producer Halaifonua (Nua) Finau.

Tagata Pasifika reports the film stars John-Paul Foliaki (Popstars), Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi (The Panthers), Ilaisaane Green (Brutal Lives), Onetoto Ikavuka, Mikey Falesiu (Toke), Lupeti Finau, Lotima Pome’e (Under the Vines), and Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson (Savage). 

Tongans are renowned for their enthusiastic support of their sporting teams; decorating their cars, houses and faces with the Tongan flag. Inspired by a true story, Red, White & Brass showcases this māfana energy. The underdog story follows a community of Tongans who form a brass band as the pre-game entertainment in a desperate attempt to get tickets to the 2011 Rugby World Cup Tonga vs France game. 

“The māfana energy in the film is infectious,” says Fepulea’i. “I can’t wait for Kiwis to see this film on 23rd March, and what’s possible when you band together for a common goal.”

Finau was in the original band that performed at the Rugby World Cup in 2011. He is excited to see the Tongan community represented authentically on the big screen. 

“Ever since we shot the film my DM’s have been full with people asking when they can see the film,” says Nua. “Kainga, the wait is over! Hope you enjoy this sneak peak!”

Lead actor John-Paul Foliaki is so proud to be a part of a project of this magnitude.

“I’m honoured to be a part of a film that celebrates the essence of what it means to not just be a Tongan but also a young NZ born Tongan with a dream. Despite our Kingdom of Tonga being the focus, the themes are universal; be proud, work together and you can achieve anything” says Folaiki.

The rising talent emphasises his love for the meaning of the film and how his character (Maka) reminds him of the sacrifices his own family made.

“I still can’t believe it! As an Artist with countless hopes and dreams, I’ve asked God many times for the opportunity to perform on the world stage. I never thought acting was something I could do but of course this is how He would answer my prayer; to honour my beautiful country and of course, my entire family. An opportunity like this makes all those sacrifices worth it. This is why we came here” he says.

Shot in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, this feel-good Kiwi film will be released in Aotearoa to New Zealand audiences on Thursday 23 March 2023 before its international release. 


Photo Tagata Pasifika