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FeatureFilm Festival
Behind the scene

Chinlone: The Mystic Cane Ball
Made as a documentary from Canadian director Gregg Hamilton this is a film closer to home for Thai people, than maybe the westerner. However the fascination of this production is in the filming of this traditional Burmese sport of harmonisation, of balance, of elegance and of skill.

Chinlone is over 1,500 years old and was once played for Myanmar royalty. Over the centuries, players have developed more than 200 different ways of kicking the ball. Many of the moves are similar to those of Myanmar dance and martial art. Some of the most difficult strokes are done behind the back without seeing the ball as it is kicked. Form is all important in Chinlone; there is a correct way to position the hands, arms, torso, and head during the moves. A move is considered to have been done well only if the form is good.

This traditional art or sport is practiced throughout Myanmar and the director becomes the first foreigner to take part in Chinlone events. The film is beautifully shot with many evocative images of players with the small ball practicing almost anywhere they can find a space. Other parts of the film show exhibitions by groups, but never in competition. The beauty of Chinlone is its non-competitive nature, something almost unheard of in modern sport. It is played for the pure joy of being able to ‘do tricks’ with the mystic ball.

The film has already won a number of awards in the US and Canada with many citing its visual strengths as important as the documentary itself.

In his lovely first film, director Greg Hamilton details his introduction to Chinlone in Myanmar and the circumstances that led to him becoming the game's first foreign star." Jason Anderson, Eye Weekly


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