Last summer Elena Parasco chronicled the sweaty games and magic hour practice sessions of her women's basketball squad, illuminating not just its rituals but the inclusive art of the sport. "Basketball is a safe space," says one baller in Elena's new film, capturing the team's winter games and locker room hangouts. "In the real world you make one mistake and you're supposed to give up or something." Locker Room Talk opens, naturally, in a locker room, on an artist-athlete girl gang of archetypes that women can each see a bit of themselves in: whether American, immigrant, queer, straight, graphic designer, or corporate CEO. Elena conceived of the film after the team drove a van down to the Women's March last month. But the idea had likely been brewing subconsciously since now-president Donald Trump's infamous Access Hollywood "pussy tapes" scandal.
"It was really important to me to capture the wake of energy happening right now," the baller-director tells i-D. "What it looks like to empower other women, each other. To listen, to focus, to empathize, to support, to respect, to hug out, to mess up. And how instead of being completely immobilized by recent events in today's emotional climate, how some of us turned inward, and leaned on each other. Becoming a stronger force than ever before."
The political references are made clear by the film's title, but Locker Room Talk champions intersectional feminist values that are timeless: constructive competition, hanging out in groups, showing up, speaking out, and knowing when to stay quiet. Whether shooting 3-pointers or shooting the shit, the team is documented from non-intrusive angles that let outsiders in only after trust has been built. And while scoring points isn't the team's only goal, their Ghostbusters singlets and stick-and-poke "GRL PWR" tattoos are always a slam-dunk. You don't need to be wearing a pussy hat to smash the patriarchy.
Text Hannah Ongley
Stills courtesy of Meghan McGarry