There are many elements in basketball, foreign players, money, and a group of Finns in the team management. “Basket Case” is a documentary that talks about more than just sports, it shows the tragic reality of miscommunication inside an organization.
The story takes place in the small city of Porvoo, where the basketball team Tarmo was one of the worst of the league last year. Hoping for success, the team doubles its budget, they hire a new manager and a coach who have a difficult relationship from the start. In no time, the small team makes a new record on foreign players coming from Africa and the US to join the team.
Oskari Pastila, a young filmmaker, whose production just turned into success, directs “Basket Case”. His documentary is well constructed in a humoristic way, but at the same time makes you think and understand Finns and their society with many occasional good laughs. Hence the irresolvable situation with a washing machine, you’ll see!
Pastila shows the case from different perspectives: conversations, board meetings, comments of the players, flats rented in bad shape, a budget that does not keep up with the incoming players –cars, fame and “bling-bling” that never came– and it revels the other side of the Finnish society.
“But what are Americans doing in a Finnish basketball team?”, an old lady asks. A foreign player costs half than a Finnish one, answers the manager. Without a doubt, Pastila represents with his critical eye, a new generation of artists who question the world in which we live. They are silent observers and they express through their art.
From fashion to fiction, documentaries and sports
Oskari has vast experience in directing short films and videos in Great Britain and Finland. He has made various installations and has also worked as a sports reporter and news cameraman.
He ended up working with moving images and specializing in film, and by accident got mixed in the fashion industry and did some work for the London Fashion weekend. The Media part comes from the idea to combine fashion design and moving images some how.
Basket case is his first long documentary. The idea came because he was interested in the typical stories of confrontation between foreign players and Finnish culture and he knew about the stormy relationship of the manager and the coach.
-What is the message or the aim of this documentary?
I don’t want to put my message in one sentence. I would rather give it to the viewer to decide what is it. It tells about organizations or structures, when they are not so professional. I have heard that this is the same situation everywhere, it is universal or at least inside Finland. Then of course it’s like a micro cosmos of this globalized world. I don’t know if this is the Finnish way, but people are not telling things straight.
-The original idea for shooting was to make a basketball series. When did you decide to change the original plan and make a long documentary?
It was just a financial decision. The funding didn’t come for the original plan. After the filming, we had such good material that we had to do something and then we did this “YouTube campaign”. We got 100 000 hits in two or three weeks. Then I emailed YLE (A Finnish Broadcast TV) and they were interested.
It’s funny because already when I was filming I thought that it would be much nicer to make one film, because it would be the right format.
-How were you able to shoot important conversations, meetings and so on? How long did the shooting take?
Before we started we just made the agreement with the team, the manager and the board of the team and they ratified the agreement. Of course there were some meetings they didn’t allow us to film, we didn’t shoot everything. It took four moths of shooting, we had six different cameramen, and some times we were filming for almost 24 hrs. For the editing it took us about six months, more or less.
– How did you manage to make people forget that there was always a camera present?
After 250 hours of shooting, people got used to it. Other trick was not to record in their face but at a distance with radio mics, that way it was easier for them to forget the presence of the camera.
– What is your opinion about how African and American players were treated, racism or mismanagement?
I think that the black Americans were treated much better than the black Africans with the excuse that America is a basketball nation. The coach really appreciated Zimbabwe and Cameroon as a basketball nation and he was interested on how they performed, and even if it should be about skills… ok, maybe they weren’t that good players, but I think the attitude was a little bit towards that.
– Are you working in your next project?
Yeah! I have a lot of different ideas. There is a project about a community in Svalbard, Norway, of mine workers. It is an island and people go there for the good salaries. In those places there is nothing to do, just one pub, they have the biggest selection of whisky in the whole world. This guys decided to put up a motorcycle club, they bought Harley Davidson’s and it is the most northern motorcycle club in the world. There is this curiosity; the idea is to do something there.
– Would you like to give a message for our readers
Remember to drink a lot of tequila!
What about vodka?
-Well I think that some times, but I prefer Tequila!
Tequila Bajo 0º thanks Oskari for this interview and we raise our tequilas for his upcoming premiere on cinemas on the 1st of May in Helsinki. After that we’ll keep on drinking for the premieres and film festivals to come!
Oscari Pastila who always thought about being a journalist became a filmmaker and media artist. He studied in London where he learned to be “critical”, as he said, and graduated from Media Lab TaiK (University of Art and Design, Helsinki).
Pastila is a talented artist, his work speaks for itself. In 2005, Pastila won a prize in the Baltic Fashion award in Germany as member of the group “Art of Human Body”. In 2006 he wrote and directed the media art work Exile, an experimental fiction (half documentary) story about a woman that suffers schizophrenia, for which he own a prize in Germany in the Madness and Arts Festival II and was one of the finalists in the Finnish competition Prix Möbius Nordica 2007.