Continuing my profiles of the 2012 Sundance US Documentary Competition: Marius Markevicius’ THE OTHER DREAM TEAM explores national identity and pride through sports.
Sundance Program Description:
In 1992 the United States sent the Dream Team to the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Considered the greatest basketball team ever assembled, these players were expected to dominate and win the gold—and that’s exactly what they did. Meanwhile, on another court, a basketball team from the newly independent nation of Lithuania was chasing a different kind of dream. A tiny country of three million people, Lithuania won the bronze medal, beating Russia, its former oppressor.
Filmmaker Marius Markevicius skillfully crafts an inspirational David-versus-Goliath story, bouncing from the personal struggles of players living behind the iron curtain to their astonishing journey out of the clutches of communism into their unlikely partnership with the Grateful Dead and the glory of the summer Olympics in Barcelona. THE OTHER DREAM TEAM is a triumphant tale of freedom, guts, and pride—a rousing testament to the power of sports as a catalyst for cultural identity.
First time feature director Markevicius has been to Park City a few times over the years as a producer/co-producer for the Slamdance film SPOONER and Sundance alums DOUCHEBAG and LIKE CRAZY (winner of last year’s US Dramatic Competition). He also served as an associate producer on Peter Weir’s THE WAY BACK. His fellow producer Jon Weinbach produced the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary STRAIGHT OUTTA LA, which premiered at Tribeca. Serving as co-producers on the doc are my lovely friend Jennifer Cochis, who also co-produced Sundance alum DOUCHEBAG and also produced fellow 2012 Sundance title SMASHED, and Lithuanian producer/director/actor Linas Ryskus.
Why You Should Watch:
Regular readers of what (not) to doc will note that I’m not typically drawn to sports documentaries, so it’s always a welcome surprise when I come across one that moves beyond sports doc conventions to address larger, more relatable issues or fascinating individuals, like last year’s Sundance winner SENNA. Markevicius’ film just does that, using the context of basketball to talk less about the game and more about what playing the game as Lithuanians meant for the country, both during Soviet occupation and after its independence. The result is an emotionally affecting film that will resonate even with viewers who couldn’t care less about basketball.
More information about the doc may be found on its website and its Facebook page. Markevicius discusses his doc in a “Meet the Artists” interview for Sundance here and with Indiewire here. A teaser trailer may be found here. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.