exclusive: watch a surreal short film of chinatown’s downtown girls basketball league

The gender-fluid, artist-based sport squad stars in a surreal short film inspired by French New Wave montage, post-game vodka gimlets, and what it means to be a female athlete in 2016.

by Hannah Ongley
Oct 13 2016, 2:55pm

Elena Parasco joined Chinatown's Downtown Girls Basketball League a few months before the team's sweltering, spirited summer 16 game season. This is the period chronicled in Parasco's new short film about the gender-fluid, all-female sport squad. But downtowngirlsbball isn't a visual diary of the sweaty games, magic hour practice sessions, and post-nightfall vodka gimlet and dumpling sessions at neon-lit art bar Beverly's. The director/artist/baller was also dissatisfied with other portraits she had seen of female athletes. "I was interested in constructing truth told strongly through the female gaze behind this specific group of girls, of basketball players, not creating a story within it," Parasco tells i-D. "They are the story."

Parasco's own portrait takes cues from French New Wave cinema to create a mental mindscape of the individual players. Like the Downtown Girls themselves, it defies simple categorization, instead striking at the intersection of artist and athlete or feminine and masculine. "As a woman, it's different. When you're not playing due to skill, or rivalry, etc, [the experience] enters a different channel," Parasco explains. The viewing experience is more one of getting to know the Girls and playing/sweating/celebrating with them.

Vitally, there's no knowing who "wins" or "loses," and no one really cares. "The ethos of the team is kind of like, 'See you at sunset, and then let's chill after, yeah?'" Parasco says. The ballers' most memorable moments from the season instead range from "Getting that badass permit for the Grand Canal court and then sweating like a Slip 'N Slide playing on one of the hottest days of the summer" (Hannah Kuo, graphic designer) to "The after party of this vid premiere" (Allison Clark, digital art director) to "Winning Sudden Death and a basketball night light after I smacked my head on our captain Aria's head" (Cecilia Salama, artist). Okay, so sometimes winning is important.

downtowngirlsbball is soundtracked by fresh tracks from Ricky Eats Acid's upcoming album Talk to You Soon, due out via Terrible Records at the end of the month. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Vimeo

downtown girls basketball league