- Directed by Greg Hamilton
- Reviewed at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival
- Rating: 4/5
Mystic Ball is a 2006 documentary film directed by and starring Greg Hamilton, chronicling the Canadian man's two-decades-long obsession with a Burmese sport-artform called chinlone. Played by six players in a circular ring, using their feet to pass each other a cane ball that is perhaps six inches in diameter, it is described as non-competitive sport that is only about completing the most beautiful moves possible.
Originally conceived as a documentary about chinlone, the documentary morphed into becoming a movie about Hamilton, a Canadian of Africa-American-Irish descent who grew up in foster homes and was bullied and picked on during his childhood. He obtained a background in martial arts, but one day during the 1980s in Toronto, he saw a Burmese immigrant playing chinlone, and from there became steadily obsessed with learning the game.
It is a journey that has taken him from Canada to Myanmar many times, and has made him famous in Myanmar as the only foreigner to participate in chinlone, which is only played in Myanmar. Similar forms of chilone exist. In Thailand and other southeast Asian countries, there is sepak takraw, which is a competitive sport played by teams on either side of a net, like volleyball. There's also a circle form of takraw, but it is not the same as chinlone.
Though Hamilton takes center stage, a move that Hamilton says was necessary for him to find backers in the West and help foreign audiences relate to the film, the documentary does a good job of presenting the Myanmar players who are the best in the game. These include the incredible Su Su Llaing, who is also a chilone soloist, performing acrobat feats and balancing, all while bouncing a ball on the top of her feet.
Ultimately, the goal for Hamilton is to spread word about chilone to the world outside Myanmar, and possibly form an international tour of Myanmar's top chinlone practitioners.
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)