Fili Tanuvasa has just graduated from high school with a bright future ahead of him. A gifted athlete, he's set to follow in his father's footsteps as a football player, and his family and his close-knit Samoan community expect great things and much success from Fili. But Fili has another side to him. He has a secret desire to act and explore his creativity. He's gone so far as to apply to an acting program and gotten in. But when it comes time to pick a path, he's still torn between following his heart and honoring his family and culture. Directed and written by Peter Filimaua, this short drama follows the coming-of-age of a young man torn between familial and community expectations and a desire to explore his identity and interests outside of those confines. The storytelling deftly sets up the fundamental conflicts that pull at Fili. We see him in his athletic milieu, where he excels. Here, he enjoys the love and support of his father and the excitement of his community, which celebrates his talent and success on the field. There's an intensity in Fili's training, especially when he's coached by his dad, who has much invested in Fili's success. The writing also explores Fili's burgeoning creative desires for acting, portrayed in a more cloistered visual register. These longings are more secret, and something Fili feels like his family and community won't understand. 

Passion vs. Tradition: Inside the Story of 'Fili' – Utah Film Festival

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Fili (Short 2023) - IMDb

Actor Joshua Leomiti not only conveys Fili's energy, dynamic character and deep love for his family and culture, but also his divided loyalties. As he's pulled between the different dimensions of his life, he needs the support of his family more than ever. Compelling, sensitive and compassionate, FILI works well because it understands why Fili's choice is so difficult, showing how both sports and the arts bring out something valuable and important for him. As an athlete, Fili has learned strength, confidence and camaraderie. He's a caring, loving son who loves his family and culture. But he's still finding his footing as a young person, and part of that is exploring who he is outside his athletic prowess, his family and his culture. In the end, he learns the choice doesn't have to be so stark, and that he can move into a future of his own making while still holding what and who he loves close to his heart.