Tam Tam

The film, ‘Tam Tam’, shot entirely on 16mm and directed by Spindle co-founder Greg Hackett, captures the story of an Italian basketball team, who were refused access to regional leagues because of the Italian born players’ immigration status. The story is narrated by 14 year old, Wisdon, who recounts his and his teams journey, and is accompanied by Hackett’s cinematic visual narrative.

The right to citizenship at birth, ‘lus solis’, is still unapproved in Italy, denying over a million children, born of immigrant parents, automatic citizenship.

Hackett comments, ‘having seen an article written by Sophia Seymour, alongside Giulio Piscitelli’s photography, I asked myself how I could help get this seemingly insignificant, but unjust story some more attention. For me, it was a story so worth telling I took it on as a personal project. So, I called Giulio and arranged to fly over to meet with him and the boys. For me, the story of the team and their journey into the league was a good metaphor for a wider conversation about what being a ‘citizen’ actually means and the hurdles that migrants and their children can face in the everyday.

Former Italian basketball champion, Massimo Antonelli, started the team at a disused holiday complex in Castel Volturno, an area that is made up of 25,000 inhabitants, a fifth of which are registered migrants. Being free to join, it offered local teenagers a chance to participate in after school sports and was sustained by generous donations.

On the aesthetic of the film, Hackett notes that ‘the area was in such a state dis-repair that I didn’t want to shoot digital, as I wanted to avoid glamourizing the situation. Mixing the feeling of documentary with cinema and film gave me that organic feeling I was looking for and felt authentic, given the importance of the subject matter.’

The FPI (Italian Basketball Federation) rules stated that to compete, only 2 players per team could be migrants, which posed a problem for Antonelli and his team of hard working and committed players. Given his media status, he soon found himself at the center of a debate about Italian citizenship and integration, and the question ‘what does it mean to be Italian?’ was brought to the fore.

At the end of last year, parliament passed a bill entitled ‘Save Tam Tam basketball team’, changing sporting regulations, so that all children born in Italy to immigrant parents, will now be allowed to compete officially.

The Director adds, ‘I was taken back by the story itself, how this team took their plight to the government and won! It was inspirational, yet as humble as you can get.’

Now able to compete, Tam Tam began their first full season on 11th November, 2018 and have already won their first five games.

Hackett concludes, ‘They were just 14 year old kids that wanted to play basketball, who dreamt of living a normal life and doing things we all do, but ultimately live with the uncertainty of their future due to bureaucracy out of their control. I loved my time with them, their energy and passion for the sport. Some of the guys have to walk 7+ miles each way to practice down country roads with no paths, in the dark. They’re a shining example to us all.’

About the Artist

With strong attention to the detail of storytelling and an identifiable taste for composition, Greg has directed commercials and branded content for clients such as Philips, Sony, Royal Navy, Cartier, National Geographic and The New York times. in 2013 he founded the production company Spindle

Most recently, ’The Longest Night’ for Philips was awarded ‘best brand film of the year’ at the Campaign and PR week award festival and gained a Vimeo Staff Pick. Additionally, Sony ‘tko’ has picked up gold awards at the Cannes Lions, British Arrows, and Ciclope craft festivals. His short film ‘Experiments In Speed’ was an instant online success being viewed over two million times & shared globally. Similarly, ‘One Seven Eight’ was shown at festivals across the world including Banff, Telluride & the 5 point mountain festival. Having gained the attention of the New York Times' TBrand studio, together they have made a variety of short films over the past two years with Greg directing.

More of Greg’s work can be seen on his Website and on Instagram

Short FilmsRyan Berg