Dream Team 1935 (Latvia)

directed by Aigars Grauba

Friday, November 29, 7pm,

395 Wellington, National Archives

28th European Union Film Festival

Jump ball! What is now but a ceremonial opening tap of inconsequence, used to be a major advantage in the early days of basketball. There was a jump ball after every score, which meant a team with the tallest player would dominate possession all game long. That’s just one of the quirks basketball fans have to get used to when viewing Dream Team 1935. That and the fact that all the players are pasty white, and there is absolutely no dunking going on. Still, as sports histories go, this is a pretty fine little drama, telling the little known tale of the little known country that could. The inaugural European championship is the prize at stake, but so is the all-important international recognition that struggling republic upstart Latvia so desperately craves. This one follows the 101 school of sports movies: gather a rag tag bunch of characters, a smart but polarizing coach, bureaucrats who won’t support the cause, dirty opponents, and a hopeful, dough-eyed kid with a wish. Gosh. If one can stomach the thick syrup, and a bit of wooden acting, there’s some pretty exciting and authentic basketball drama to be had.

A somber footnote to the movie rolls before the credits, when the post tournament career bios show most of the players perishing in the impending war.

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