Director Marius A. Markevicius’ documentary channels the passion and international pride of the Lithuanian athletes competing at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Not always elegantly but with a treasure trove of charismatic personalities, The Other Dream Team broadens the historical and political context of the competition for the bronze medal in basketball. That game pitted bitter rivals against each other: the Lithuanian national team against the Russian Unified team, with all Lithuania watching. In 1988 four of the five elite Lithuanian athletes (Sabonis, Chomicius, Kurtinaitis, Marciulionis) played on the Soviet basketball team that stunned the US.
In 1992, after decades of deeply resented Soviet Union domination (economically presented here through archival footage), Lithuania had national pride, desperate hope, and a celebration of hard-won independence front and center on the court. The back-story is filled with amusing and sobering elements; for example, the men describe their wild shopping sprees when they played outside the Soviet Union. They stuffed suitcases with shoes when in Spain, clothes from Italy, electronics from Japan, and, to quote them, everything from America. More tragically, while still under Soviet rule, one outstanding Lithuanian player is drafted by the NBA's Portland Trailblazers and refused an exit visa to emigrate to the U.S.
Some of the details reside in the surreal realm in this fabulous story, especially the connection to the Grateful Dead befriending the Lithuanian Olympic team and providing wild, tie-die t-shirts. The Other Dream Team jumps around a bit, digressing into a recent NBA draft that's tangentially connected to the focus, but this story is priceless. By the time the documentary reaches the bronze medal game of the '92 Olympics, there's much more at stake than showcasing Lithuania's basketball prowess.
Don’t rush out when the end credits roll or you'll miss the updates sandwiched into them. In English and in Lithuanian with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.