Three Questions with Jerome Thelia, director of Bounce
“Bounce is anything but a straightforward sports film” says director Jerome Thelia by phone from Austin, where his film premiered to rave reviews. This weekend sees its Canadian premeire on Sunday, June 7th at 5 p.m. as a part of the Canadian Sport Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play, is an essential film to seek out as a part of the festival.
Scene Creek: One of the things we like about the film is that sports stand for other things
Jerome Thelia: Absolutely, and even among sports fans there is a real thirst to hear about how we got to this point. Baseball fans are a perfect example. As a group, they are incredibly curious, and they have a real sense of history, and they pay attention to stats. There is a lot that transcends the sort of simpler narratives that we get around sports stories. We talk about it in the film that idea that we could sort of derive and map stats to get at the essential core narrative of what the game is about, that is what baseball and American sports have brought to that, a uniquely modern and American view, since the start of the mid-nineteenth century. What America brought to it was science, math, and what baseball and football sort of reflect are the values of democracy and fairness, that modernity and technology sort of reflect our values. You don’t get that necessarily in a game like soccer, which is much more chaotic, anarchic and random. The best team in soccer doesn’t necessarily win at all.
SC: There is definitely a divide between those interested in American and European sports
JT: Exactly. We have a section of the film which we call ‘football versus football‘, where out experts go back and forth, in sort of a friendly way, talking about what makes the flow of soccer such ecstasy, and how that reflects a certain set of values, and the other discusses how American football can represent manifest destiny as a part of American history,
SC: American football is more popular than ever.
JT: Yes, no doubt about it and what we always wanted to do with Bounce was sort of like just get at the root of why we feel so passionate and so strongly about these ballgames, and what they say about us going to back to (laughing) before homo sapiens were around, and where did the urge to play, and where the urge to play ball by extension, come from?