THE TWELVE PERCENT is a documentary about two first-generation Samoan college students and the unique struggles they face in navigating higher education.
In the United States, Samoans have high rates of poverty and are less likely to attend college and complete a bachelor’s degree than almost any other racial group in the United States. Comprehensive data is unavailable due to the lumping together of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders which impacts the availability of culturally sensitive and appropriate resources. Additionally, Samoans are shown in popular culture and media as fearsome giants, gangsters, and football players which impacts how Samoans are seen by others and how they see themselves as well as plays a role in the limited options afforded to Samoan youth.
The film provides an alternative representation of how Samoan youth are navigating life in America and carving a different path of success. Shot in Los Angeles, Carson, Wilmington, and Long Beach, California, THE TWELVE PERCENT reveals the myriad of economic, cultural, and social issues that Samoan American youth face. The film tells the story of two college students, Tiny Bubbles Aranda and Scott Olomanu. Despite pressures to pursue other paths, they have navigated and overcome many obstacles in the way of receiving their degrees. Cultural reclamation and community engagement are strong forces in their lives as Aranda and Olomanu empower themselves and others while staying in school. Community activists and scholars put their stories in broader context bringing to light the specific issues Samoans, and Pacific Islanders in general, face while living in the continental United States and accessing higher education.
By highlighting the lives, struggles, and successes of Samoan American college students, THE TWELVE PERCENT enables a critical examination of the particular social, political, and economic issues facing Samoans living in the continental U.S. diaspora and provides a powerful and uplifting narrative of Samoan youth navigating different paths.
The film is currently in post-production and is expected to hit festivals in 2017.