'This Is Not a Ball': Film Review

This Is Not A Ball Still 2 - H 2014
Courtesy of Videocine

This Is Not A Ball Still 2 - H 2014

This promotional documentary is padded out with a scattershot examination of the world's most popular sport.

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz co-directs this documentary chronicling the creation of his massive new artwork tied to the 2014 World Cup.

Representing the second documentary concerning a massive artwork by Brazilian artist Vic Muniz — 2010’s Waste Land was the first — This Is Not a Ball chronicles his creation of a major new piece composed of 10,000 soccer balls timed to coincide with the imminent opening of the 2014 World Cup games. Co-directed by Muniz and Juan Rendon, the scattershot film, which would have been far more effective as a short subject, is also a freewheeling examination of the game’s history, global appeal and the various attributes of the soccer ball itself.

We are thus introduced to such digressive subjects as teenagers formerly involved in the drug trade who found redemption in the sport; impoverished children who create makeshift balls to play the game; a Pakistani sweatshop (some 40 percent of the world’s soccer balls are created in that country) where we see female workers hand stitching them; other international sports that use similar balls, such as Japan’s Kemari; a Sierra Leone team composed of amputee players; and the history of the sport, which began in England in the 1860s.

Muniz is also seen interviewing various figures, ranging from the pivotal (Brazilian star female player Marta Vieira da Silva) to the tangential (astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, rhapsodizing about the scientific properties of balls as if this was an outtake from his Cosmos television series).

Ultimately, though, the proceedings are essentially a promotion for Muniz and his ambitious new artwork, with the logistics of its creation depicted in eventually numbing detail. This is by far the film’s least interesting aspect, with the numerous other topics discussed seemingly used to pad out its running time. There’s certainly an interesting documentary to be made about soccer, the world’s most popular sport by far, but This Is Not a Ball isn’t it.

Directors: Vic Muniz, Juan Rendon

Screenwriters: Juan Rendon, Kristofer Rios

Producers: Natalie Osma, Patricia Sanchez

Executive producer: Isaac Lee

Director of photography: Christopher Gallo

Editors: Marlon Venerio, Cynthia Rogers, Darren Klomok

Composer: Ed Cortes—Uptempo

No rating, 90 min.