DIRECTOR: OVE MUSTING STARRING: MARGARITA BEREZEVSKAJA, HOWARD FRIER, ARTJOM GARAJEV RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 30 MINUTES
The Soviet Union is likely to collapse and Baltic nations struggle to take back their lost independence. Soviet Union's basketball championship is set to begin while public opinion opposes the Estonian national team's participation.
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The inspirational sports drama Kalev is the latest International Feature submission for Estonia. Set in Tallinn in the summer of 1990, the film is about the national Estonian basketball team called Kalev who are about to participate in the Soviet Union basketball championship just as the Baltic countries are all trying to gain independence from the USSR.
The film begins with Aivar, the star of his team, and the rest of the players beginning their training sessions in preparation for the biggest championship of the year. As Latvia and Lithuania have declared independence, the Estonian team is now being faced with a very difficult decision. Should they play in the tournament, which is for Russian players, or should they skip it?
If they don’t participate in the tournament, none of the players will get paid. If they do participate in the tournament, then they will be accused of being communist collaborators.
It’s a no-win scenario for everyone involved with the Kalev team. And their decision will be, not only career changing, but life changing as well.
Director Ove Musting has created a fantastic film during such an important time for Estonia, not only because of the basketball team, but because of their independence as a nation. Kalev is a tightly edited, highly entertaining, thrilling film, with wonderful performances. It feels like you’re a part of the game, and part of the sports arena cheering them on.
As the head coach of the team says: “Russian or not… what’s the difference?” People fight. People make politics. People play basketball, not nationalities. Sports has a way of uniting people. It has a way of inspiring people. And the Kalev Estonian basketball team brought a nation together, just as Estonia finally declared independence a few months later after the tournament ended.