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  • It's fair to say that my two biggest passions in life (at least when it comes to pop culture, hobbies, etc.) are movies and sports. I'm a big fan of music, books, and eating large amounts of fatty foods, too, but they don't quite compare to the level of affection I hold for movies and sports, particularly basketball. The combinations of those two passions often feels like someone in the world is secretly reading my hypothetical diary at night and creating programming just for me. Such is the case with The Other Dream Team, a powerful and insightful documentary that I imagine will stick with me for quite some time.

    For many basketball fans, the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain are considered special, maybe even sacred, as the team assembled to represent the US Men's Olympic basketball team was unquestionably the greatest collection of talent in the history of the sport. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and eight other legendary players (plus Christian Laettner!) came together to form the Dream Team, annihilating every opponent that stood in the way of earning the gold medal and spreading the gospel of basketball to the world along the way. But while the Dream Team captivated a worldwide audience, there was a much more dramatic and significant story unfolding in the background. A group of players representing the small country of Lithuania which had only recently regained its independence in the fall of the USSR worked their way into the third place game and faced off with the Unified Team, the remnants of the squad they had been forced to compete with during the Communist reign. Weaving together the happenings on the basketball court with the rebirth of a small nation, The Other Dream Team expertly displays the importance of sport and the ways it can be used to inspire.

    Going into this film, I had a basic understanding of what took place on the basketball court throughout this story. Like many other men my age, as a kid I was fascinated by the Dream Team. We'd never seen anything like that team and we never will again; they were literally that good. The Lithuanian team, though, always stuck out to me partly because they appeared to actually be good at basketball (whereas some of our other opponents looked like a bunch of middle school girls) and partly because their top two players, Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis, were tremendous talents. In this summer's Olympics, virtually every team that qualifies to play will have at least one or two NBA-caliber players but in '92, that wasn't the case. Sabonis and Marciulionis, along with Croatia's Drazen Petrovic, were undoubtedly the best players in the tournament who weren't on the Dream Team.

    I did not know, however, the tumultuous background from which these players came from. At the time of the Olympic Games, Lithuania had only been an independent nation for two short years, two years which were trying to say the least. Amazingly enough, it's tough to get a new country off the ground when you've spent 46 years under Communist reign (shocking, I know). The Other Dream Team heartbreakingly digs into the deeper elements of this fight for independence and paints a dark (and truthful) picture of what it was like to live through this period, both before and after Lithuania received its freedom from the Soviets. There are some truly devastating visuals and descriptions at play here and the film pulls no punches in ensuring that the audience understands not only what the players were going through but what every citizen of the country was going through. As such, the Lithuanian basketball team is simply the medium in which the filmmakers work to bring their story together.

    By showing us the awful conditions which the players (and by proxy, their countrymen) lived through while under Soviet control and the immense struggle that was the fight for independence, director Marius A. Markevicius sets us up for a dramatic and deeply satisfying third act. Defeating the Russians to win the bronze medal was nothing compared to the hope their triumph gave a young nation and this is illustrated exquisitely through a mix of tear-inducing behind-the-scenes footage and touching interviews with both players and spectators. This is one of the more genuine sports documentaries I can remember and one that seems to really understand the significance of the subject matter it concerns itself with. It is a touching, at times quite funny, and beautiful example of the power of sport that will absolutely hit home for sports fans and non-fans alike.

    Please see my reviews at thesoapboxoffice.com
  • Everyone who likes basketball knows Lithuania and its fans. This small (Lithuania has population as little as 3 mln.) yet basketball mad country since Barcelona won 3 Olympic medals in a row which is really incredible.

    This movie is not about basketball it's about FREEDOM, about fight with repressors in one of strangest of ways - basketball game.

    , The Other Dream Team' movie shows everything: passion, devotion, freedom from repression and power of will. It's about ordinary Lithuanian people who were extraordinary in basketball court and near it. Each victory of Lithuanian basketball was victory of whole nation in pacific yet most effective war against Russia (SSRS).

    This game is not about money - it's about freedom.
  • makelvin7 January 2013
    This is an interesting documentary. In my opinion, the title of this documentary should not be called "The Other Dream Team" but rather it should be called "The Real Dream Team". This documentary talks about the story behind the Lithuanian's '92 Olympic Basketball team and it is a real moving story of triumph.

    In '92, the US Dream Team is really just more or less a commercial dream whereas the Lithuanian dream team carry with them the dream of freedom, the dream of recognition from around the world, the dream of independence and most of all, the dream of a nation.

    Basketball fan everywhere should watch this documentary; but I am sure even non-basketball fan should find this inspirational.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a casual basketball fan I only some what excited to see this documentary. But The Other Dream Team surpassed all of my expectations. It is a great story of an underdog team that has just want to make their country proud.

    The film had a lot of work to do to set up the long and complicated history of The Soviet Union and the smaller Eastern European countries, like Lithuania. I really enjoyed hearing the personal accounts of what it was like to grow up during the cold war and what it was like to be on the very strict Soviet Union national basketball team.

    It is also fun seeing an Olympic experience through the eyes of a country that is not the United States. Many people know the narrative of the 1992 US Basketball 'Dream' Team and this story of the Lithuanian National team only makes that years events more important.

    There are some amazing photos of the team over the years that were so fun. Especially all of the photos the team in the tye-dye shirts. So fun.

    I laughed, I cried. It was great.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had heard what this film was about, but really wasn't prepared for the history lesson I was about to receive. It was great! Since I am sort of a history buff, it was wonderful to hear true accounts from people who grew up in Lithuanian during this fight for Independence. To be honest, I didn't know much about Lithuanian history (or at least from this perspective), and I love to be shocked by documentaries. And shock me, it did.

    Along with the historical aspect in this film, you have an underdog (well, not athletically speaking – they were all very talented) sports story. These insanely tall, insanely talented Lithuanians were more than just a basketball team. They were revolutionaries fighting for their country. They weren't just playing basketball to play basketball; they were playing to prove a point. They felt they had to prove themselves not only to their adversaries, but also to their supporters that they were worthy and strong enough to be independent. And they used Olympic basketball to do that.

    This film is a brave story of freedom. It has a lovely combination of comedy, drama and suspense (even if you already know what happens), and you won't leave any screening of this documentary disappointed.
  • "The Other Dream Team" is about Lithuanian basketball from the mid-1980s to today--with a particular emphasis on how this all relates to Lithuanian independence from the old Soviet Union. It seems that this tiny nation was the backbone of the 1988 gold medal basketball team. But what would happen when the USSR fell apart? And, how would this new team help to unify the nation? The film consists of tons of interviews, film clips and photos. Together they tell an inspiring story.

    In many ways, this is highly reminiscent of another film---one about Lithuania's neighbor, Latvia. In "The Singing Revolution", it talks about this same time period--when these people in a tiny nation stood firm against their Soviet overlords. However, instead of basketball unifying the country, it was their heritage of music. Both are simply terrific films--the sort of well-crafted documentaries that leave you choked up. Great films about freedom and the human spirit.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an extremely heart-felt and powerful documentary not only on basketball and the country of Lithuania, but also about freedom, national pride, and the human spirit.

    I had no idea, before viewing this movie, that basketball is the #1 sport in Lithuania, and has been so for many decades. However, when the nation fell under the yoke of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain, in 1940, Lithuania basketball players were forced to compete as Russians on the world stage.

    At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the United States had been 84-1 in Olympic competition, but the Soviet team defeated them. Four of the starting five players on that team were from Lithuania, including Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunus Marciulionis, who are featured mainly in the film, and who went on eventually to play in the NBA.

    One highlight of the documentary was film footage of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence, in January 1991, after the Berlin Wall had come down and after Mikhail Gorbachev's announcement of "perestroika". However, Gorbachev would not accept their independence and sent in tanks and troops leading to bloodshed. When Lithuanians came out en masse to protest and resist, and pressure was applied from the West, Russia backed down and withdrew leading to Lithuania becoming independent after all.

    This lead to their appearance, in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics, as a basketball team that could compete under their own country's banner. Since the nation was essentially bankrupt a most unusual funding relationship developed between the musical band "The Grateful Dead" and the Lithuanian basketball team, which included wild and colorful tie-dye T-shirts.

    This helped the team to compete at the Olympics, but it was also the year of U.S. Dream Team, the greatest assemblage of basketball players ever, including such notables as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley etc. etc. The Lithuanians and the Americans were in the same bracket, with both teams sweeping through their preliminary games, to meet in the semi-finals where the U.S. just overwhelmed the Lithuanians (and went on to win the Gold Medal over Croatia).

    The story doesn't end there though, as the Lithuanians would now play their bitter rivals the Russians (as the Unified Team) for the bronze medal. The Lithuanians defeated the Russians in a game with enormous political as well as sports implications. This set off a tremendous wave of national pride throughout Lithuania, that they could compete and win under their own flag finally.

    All in all, this heart-felt documentary had me engrossed from start to finish and I felt it was extremely well presented, by producer and director Marius Markevicius. It's one of the best documentaries I've seen in recent years.
  • kelvinho846 November 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Dave Zirin, one of America's most prolific political sportswriter, wrote that "the very passion we invest in sports can transform it from a kind of mindless escape into a site of resistance." With all the pomp and circumstance we afford sports today - the 24-hour cycle of media coverage, greedy ownership, athletic merchandising and advertisements – sports have become merely another cog in today's economic globalization. For the younger generation, it may be hard to fathom that before the Michael Jordans, Lebron James, and Tiger Woods, it was the Muhammad Alis, John Carlos and Tommie Smiths that globalized their respective sports, not through commercial means, but political ones.

    As an avid sports fan, I find that sports is at its most entertaining when it is infused with some sort of political implication. And anyone who dares to suggest that sports and politics should never coexist is mind-numbingly misinformed. While we still see the cultural and political resonance in international sports today, American sports has been politically starving for quite some time. Consider soccer's international stage, specifically the "El Clasico" matches between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. The sport becomes a political means of contestation between divided factions within the nation. Imagine how great the NFL would be if their games had a hint of cultural and political significance. Why don't we encourage and cheer for the defeat of the Arizona Cardinals, a state that encourages racist policies and treatment of immigrants? We do not because this is a testament to how successfully corporate America has shielded us from the everyday concerns of this country. Sport is cheered because it comforts us from real worries. Don't worry about Hurricane Sandy. The New York Knicks and the Miami Heat are playing!

    The reason I bring this up is because in Marius Markevicius's new film "The Other Dream Team," not only does it reveal how sports became a form of resistance but it is contrasted with the moment when sports was devaluing in American society. "The Other Dream" is a compelling and insightful documentary about the Lithuanian basketball team in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

    Before Lithuania was a sovereign nation, it was a tiny nation sandwiched between two oppressive countries, Germany and the Soviet Union. The film chronicles the extent to which the Soviet Union ruled this tiny population with an iron fist. At the center of the film are Sarunas Marculionis and Arvydas Sabonis, the two stars of the Lithuanian basketball team. The former was drafted by the Golden State Warriors and the latter played for the Portland Trailblazers. The film juxtaposes the extreme political conditions in which they lived under with the fact that they played for the USSR. In the '88 Olympics, four Lithuanian players made up the Soviet team and helped lead their oppressive rulers lift the gold. Despite their exceptional talent, the government hindered their progress as they made it difficult for them to play in the NBA.

    After the end of the Cold War, Lithuania gained its independence. Then with the 1992 Olympics coming up, Lithuania saw a window of opportunity to present themselves in the world's stage. With the funding from the Grateful Dead and sporting totally awesome psychedelic tie-dye shirts, the Lithuanian basketball team played for more than just victory. They played for resistance. They played for identity and nationalism. Although they eventually lost to the Dream Team in the semi-finals, it was the third-place match against the Soviet Union that was pivotal for the nation.

    Markevicius does a very good job at always focusing on the political aspects of the story. He strays away from the typical norms in sports films. What I love most about the film though is perhaps unintended by the director. While the film is ultimately about the Lithuanian basketball team and how the sport served as a weapon of resistance, it conversely reveals the deterioration of politics in American sports. Although the film hardly focuses on it, the contrast is there. The formulation of America's Dream Team may have some political significance. With the Cold War nearing its end, their need to reclaim the gold from the Soviet Union is very much in the back of their minds. Yet, the dominance of the USA team always remained at a superficial basketball level. They were not playing for nationalization. They played for fame at a global level. I believe this set the trend for basketball, once America's most politically laden sport, to become part of the economic globalization.

    "The Other Dream Team" is great in that it proves sport is inherently political, even when it is not.
  • I had the great expectations from this movie and I waited for it very long time. As a basketball and documentary aficionado I have to say that the film is pretty good. Montage, archive footage, interviews, good music...and on top of all it's very touching.

    However I have one remark. We all know that Lithuania is great basketball country but there was one other with similar path. Shattered small state in independence war. That country is Croatia. It was great rivalry between them and I, as a Croat, think that documentary should have mentioned it. Dražen Petrovićs, basketball's Mozart first and last Olympics as a Croat. It is not all about dream teams and US-a.

    Maybe too much information for average viewer in the beginning but then; the rest will flow. Congratiulations to Lithuania for this national project. One more great sports (and more) documentary.