Jai Alai Blues, the incredible story of the world’s top basket

Pelorais descansando en el frontón de Miami
Pelorais descansando en el frontón de Miami

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Thanks to the spectacular nature of the game and the betting factor, entrepreneurs were able to popularise this game in countries as diverse as Egypt, China, the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico and the United States. But the splendour of the golden years of Jai Alai did not last forever... An interesting documentary tells us about it.

John Travolta, a great Jai Alai fan
John Travolta, a great Jai Alai fan

How has a rural sport like cesta punta (Jai Alai) been successfully exported to so many countries? When and why did it begin its decline? After a successful run at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the documentary Jai Alai Blues tells the story of how a rural sport such as cesta punta (Jai Alai) has been exported to so many countries for over a hundred years.

Through its different characters, from humble backgrounds who achieved great success and great social recognition throughout the world, with frontons full of distinguished audiences, the documentary shows us the loss of identity due to adapting a traditional game to societies with totally different values.

Miami Fronton
Miami Fronton

Thanks to the spectacular nature of the game and the betting factor, entrepreneurs were able to popularise the game in countries as diverse as Egypt, China, the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico and the United States. But the splendour of the golden years of Jai Alai didn't last forever...

In these places, the pelotaris were considered true artists and the media covered the activity of the frontons extensively. But during the decades of splendour, the companies were never interested in looking after the health of the sport or looking for tools to adapt it to the new times.

For them, the priority was always to make as much money as possible from gambling and betting. Finally, in the 1970s, the biggest business plan ever created tried to expand Jai Alai throughout the United States.

But its ambition meant that, after a dazzling growth, the whole structure collapsed, dragging the sport itself down with it.

In the 1980s the decline began and the frontons emptied.
In the 1980s the decline began and the frontons emptied.

The documentary, by Berde Produkzioak from Bizkaia, is directed by Gorka Bilbao, with a soundtrack by Audience and El_Txef_A, with the participation of ETB, Euskaltel, Irizar and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia.

DSC00887

In the 1970s, jai alai was a big

hit in the USA, but the

excessive ambition of certain

entrepreneurs caused the

whole structure to collapse

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