SXSW Film Review: Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play

Balls make the world go ’round

What is it about those ubiquitous spheres that have captivated members of the animal kingdom since time immemorial? Everywhere on the big blue marble we call Earth, balls seem to make the world go ’round.

Jerome Thélia’s Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play delves into the questions surrounding why balls and the play activities they inspire are such universal elements of creatures’ social structures. Not surprisingly, a host of experts are called upon to help explain the notions put forth in John Fox’s book The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game. (Who knew there were so many scientists at work figuring out the origins and parameters of play?) The theoretical explorations are fascinating, although ultimately the film may be nothing more than a highfalutin’ way of explaining why cultures treat their favorite sports like religions.

The documentary is at its best during its more observational moments: a man in the Congo bundling plastic shopping bags and tying them tightly in a ball for the children to kick or nature footage of bonobo chimps, dolphins, and other animals delighting in bouncing or pursuing a ball. These moments are the film’s best arguments concerning our abiding fascination with balls.

Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play

Documentary Spotlight
Saturday, March 21, 2pm, Topfer

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SXSW Film, SXSW, Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play, SXSW Film 2015, Jerome Thélia

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