Led by the trail-blazing skills of Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis, the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team helped their country break free from the shackles of Communism. After leading the USSR to a gold medal (and victory over the U.S.A.) at the '88 Seoul Olympics, Marciulionis and Sabonis were poster boys for the Soviet sports machine. Four year later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, they emerged as symbols of democracy, willing newly-independent Lithuania to the medal stand in Barcelona.
"The Other Dream Team" documents the Lithuanians' experiences behind the Iron Curtain, where elite athletes were subjected to the vagaries of Communist rule. As they smuggled VCRs on road trips and hid from KGB agents, Lithuania's basketball stars always shared a common goal - to utilize their athletic gifts to help a nation bloom.
The '92 Lithuanian team won fans around the world for its hard-nosed play - and also through its unusual connection with the Grateful Dead. Inspired by the Lithuanian team's message of freedom, the Dead band provided financial assistance to the Lithuanians and helped create the team's distinctive, tie-dye warm ups.
In Barcelona, Lithuania advanced to the medal round, where the team faced Russia - Lithuania's oppressor since 1940 - for the bronze. Lithuania emerged victorious, and then rose to the medal stand wearing colorful gear emblazoned with the Dead's signature skeleton logo. By beating Russia, David had beaten Goliath - and the Lithuanian team had raised the game of basketball into a memorable expression of political and cultural identity.
With a mix of verite scenes, incisive interviews and extraordinary archival footage and photos culled from former Soviet archives, audiences will see how a special group of athletes journeyed through the bleak era of Communism to the rebirth of a nation -- and the re-discovery own free will. "The Other Dream Team" is a story that will resonate for any viewer with an interest in politics, pop culture or basketball. It is global basketball's ultimate 'long, strange trip' -- with a very happy ending.
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