Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Other Dream Team

In theatres from September 28th: The Other Dream Team. I’m not too hooked on going to the cinema but after having seen the trailer of this documentary film I proclaimed this as a must-see. Together with my roommate Astrid and some tissues – just in case the tears would come – we went to Forum Cinemas right around the corner. The trailer of the movie is in English but at the pay desk we discovered that the complete  movie would be half English, half Lithuanian. A moment of hesitation. ‘Shall we do it or not?’. When deciding to go for it the cinema employee said, ‘Ok, maybe a little less than half is actually in English’. Well, we wanted to try it anyways. As a little gift we got two bags of crisps for free (happy Dutchman!) so we would enjoy our time no matter what.

Shortly before Lithuania regained independence

Indeed, a lot of Lithuanian language, but still, the emotions in the eyes of the basketball players were understandable for anyone speaking any language. A lot of small interview parts are shown from Lithuanian as well as American sportsmen and trainers which handle sport and history from both country’s perspectives. The film shows Lithuania’s history through the eyes of basketball. Images of the road to independence are seamlessly connected with pictures from Lithuanian basketball players having to play for the USSR. Fantastic footage is also shown about the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, where Lithuania could finally perform for its own nation and its own fellow countrymen. This subject always manages to hit me straight in the heart. 

 I especially considered number 7, Sarunas Marciulionis and number 10, Rimas Kurtinaitis very charismatic men.

It´s amazing to realize once again how Lithuanian athletes were suppressed during Communist rule. The KGB was always around and players even feared for their lives. Still, together standing strong, they managed to always keep on fighting for the liberation of their home country. Fighting without violence, but fighting through sports. 

During the Olympics of 1992 Lithuania could finally come out for its own homeland. They won the hearts of people all around the globe, especially because of their remarkable outfits. Dressed up in the most colorful tie-died shirts they spread happiness all over the Olympic village and beyond. The Lithuanian basketball team was financially supported by the American band ‘Grateful Death’, existing of fanatic basketball fans. This explains the skull on their colored t-shits by the way.

 Awesome outfits!

The movie ends with thrilling footage of what probably still is Lithuania’s most valuable bronze medal ever. In the match on the third place Lithuania met what has been its suppressor for over the last four decades: Russia. Political tension through the eyes of basketball, a very interesting phenomenon. Guess what? Lithuania won! Lithuania won the bronze medal and with that strengthened its cultural identity once again after regaining independence. Wonderful. I’d definitely recommend this film for anyone interested in the still fresh history of the Baltic States, even though the Lithuanian spoken parts might be abracadabra for most non-Lithuanians.

For the case you're interested you can watch the trailer of 'The Other Dream Team' right here. This is also the website where the pictures were provided which I used in this blogpost.