Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play

A fascinating and meaningful exploration into the origins of our captivation with the ball

Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play What is it about the shape of a ball that fascinates humans and animals alike? Accessible and fascinating, the doc explores the origins of our captivation with the ball and ball games. Travelling across time and around the world we discover that universally the ball has stamped its mark on our lives and fuelled our passion to compete. A compelling doc searching for the reasons we play.

A make-shift ball bounces along a dusty dirt track of a Congolese village, chased by a crowd of young children. It's a game rooted in a deep global history, "the most extraordinary personal and public theatre of the emotions and the human soul". In Kirkwall, Scotland, grown men fiercely wrestle a ball through the streets in a violent game that is rooted in the beginnings of what we know today as football. Primal and exalted, the ball game is "a microcosm of our lives... it's the place where we can act out the drama of human existence".

"Spin, uncertainty, variation, bounce." These are the qualities of the ball that have entertained not only humans, but other social creatures. A strange spherical stone collection from early hominids indicates we've been playing with balls forever. And man's closest living relatives, the Bonobo monkeys, love to play their own ball games. The sequence beautifully illustrates a further axis across species and the ages of ball fixation. It's everywhere we look - fruit, seeds, stones, the sun, planets, "the things that we depended on for our existence" points out one anthropologist. therefore he indicates, it's no surprise that the ball has become a focal point for human play and culture, linking deeply to our psychological development.

The ball is at the centre of the biggest human evolutionary breakthroughs: sociality, intelligence, empathy, and morality. The unpredictability of the bouncing ball forces humans to create rules and boundaries, to negotiate and understand both the laws of physics and their connection to other people. From games of marbles in the school playground, to the mesmerising tricks of a juggler and the raucous cheers of the World Cup, stunning cinematography and expert interviews, capture the collective human experience of the ball.

A far-reaching and intelligent exploration of the significance of the sphere. This is a doc that truly knocks it out of the park.

Laurel World Premiere - SXSW Film Festival 2015
Laurel Winner, Best Film - Barcelona International FICTS Festival 2016
Laurel Official Selection - IFFBOSTON 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Docutah 2015
Laurel Official Selection - BIFF 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Portland Film Festival 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Raindance Film festival 2015


The Producers

Jerome Thélia has long been fascinated by the intersection of art and technology. He has worked as a director, editor, colorist and visual effects artist for feature films,
documentaries and commercials for 25 years. Co-founder with David McLain of the production company Merge, Jerome has taught film production at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan since 2001.

John Fox is a Harvard Ph.D.anthropologist and author of The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game (Harper Perennial, 2012), the book that inspired the making of BOUNCE. Fox has excavated ancient ball courts in Central America, traced
Marco Polo’s route across China, and bicycled Africa’s Rift Valley in search of human origins. He has contributed
commentary on sports and culture to National Public Radio, has written for Smithsonian, Outside, and Salon, among other publications, and in 2010 was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship.

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