ON THE MAP
We are delighted to open the 2017 Windsor Jewish Film Festival with On The Map, an exciting feel-good sports movie that has gathered enthusiastic responses at every film festival from coast to coast– and from your Windsor preview committee– including viewers who ordinarily have no interest in sports. If it were not true, you would not believe this David versus Goliath story that unfolded just when Israel needed it. This documentary recounts the inspiring tale of the Israeli national basketball team’s amazing 1977 win of the European Cup. The game proved a rallying cry for Israelis who had been buffeted by such events as the 1972 massacre of its Olympic athletes at Munich, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1976 Entebbe plane hijacking. Interweaving extensive archival basketball and personal footage with contemporary interviews— “Finally, the Jewish team was kicking ass,” its coach recalls — the film chronicles Maccabi Tel Aviv’s unlikely victory over the dominant Soviet “Red Army” team, CSKA Moscow. By the time the Israeli team reached the finals and played against Italy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, national passion had reached a fever pitch. The country virtually shut down while nearly its entire population watched the game. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin even delayed announcing his resignation so as not to interrupt TV coverage.Central to the film are the team’s captain, American player Tal Brody, who had abandoned a potential NBA career to play for the Israelis and African-American star Aulcey Perry, who describes his converting to Judaism. Besides interviewing the players themselves, the film also turns the camera on basketball legend Bill Walton, who had played with Brody; former NBA commissioner David Stern; Michael Oren, the
former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.; and dissident Natan Sharansky, who describes how the unlikely Israeli victory inspired him during his years imprisoned in a Soviet Union gulag.
One of the most moving segments features the former players, now in their sixties and seventies, reuniting to watch a tape of the championship game. Wearing their old jerseys and shouting at their former selves on the screen, they offer living proof that the
years have done nothing to dim their excitement and pride. Offering a courtside seat to the pulse-pounding action, On The Map celebrates the “Miracle on Hardwood,” a watershed moment of glory that many Israelis still regard as their nation’s greatest sports achievement.
USA & Israel, 2015, English and Hebrew, 85 minutes