Basketball as a weapon against oppression. Lithuania and Latvia separate from the regime of the USSR and declare independence. Zalgiris from Kaunas announces that the strongest Lithuanian basketball team will not play in the Supreme League. Many Estonian athletes refuse to participate in various Soviet competitions, but the demanding and ambitious coach Jaak Salumets decides to accept the challenge of taking the strong local team Kalev to what is still the biggest basketball competition in the world. Even if they are despised as communist collaborators and unpatriotic traitors, players gain motivation from a higher salary, the promised sponsorship deals and possible professional careers in foreign clubs – if they manage to defeat CSKA, Dynamo, Spartak, and Avtodorozhnik.
It was a decisive year for Kalev and for everyone else. Tensions outside the court were enormous, sometimes unbearable. The players were under severe mental pressure from rigged games, bribed referees, political demands, responsibilities to their families, and physical training with the hired Lithuanian coach Pranas, who knew the weight which Arvydas Sabonis could lift with playful ease.
A close bond and team spirit grows between the shooter of killer three-pointers, Aivar Kuusmaa, and Marcus Metstak, Tiit Sokk, the young naive talented debutant Gert Kullamäe and the first American legionnaire Jackson, as Kalev becomes unstoppable and fights for much more than just the result. They must win this tournament for the sake of freedom of all the Baltic countries.
Basketball films are still rare on the big screen despite the huge success of “Hustle” with the future European Champion Juancho Hernangomez. The legendary Lithuanian team Zalgiris (which held a historical game against CSKA) has not yet earned a proper feature film. The Estonian debutant Ove Musting who was invited to the international premiere at the 1-2 Competition of the Warsaw International Film Festival, has managed to capture the true beauty of basketball and the taste of superhuman victories, reminding us of the cult players with whom we grew up and carefully unveiling the tactics of the game which in the fateful season of 1990–1991 meant a lot more than just a field of sports involving an orange ball.
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Ove Musting (born 1977) graduated from Tallinn Pedagogical University with BA in Audiovisual Arts. He has created award-winning short features and ads, music videos, TV shows and multicam live broadcasts. He won an EFTA award as the best TV director in 2017 and was a Cannes Lion finalist in 2019. Ove is also a founding member of the band Winny Puhh. Kalev is Ove`s first full-length feature film.
Filmograafia Kalev (2022)