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THE SURROUNDING GAME tells the story of Go, the world's most ancient and enigmatic game. Following the lives of three young Americans vying to become the first Western professional Go players, the film explores the search for meaning that Go represents to its players, for whom the game is a distillation of consciousness itself.

FILM SYNOPSISThe ancient game of Go is the most complex and elegant game ever discovered. For three thousand years, master players in East Asia have handed down the game as an art form to foster patience, creativity, and self-reflection. Today in the elite world of the pros, international tournaments offer hundred-thousand dollar prize purses, and top matches are broadcast on 24-hour "Go TV" to millions of fans in China, Korea, and Japan. In the West, most people have never heard of the game… until now.THE SURROUNDING GAME follows the lives of three young Americans vying to become the first-ever Western professional players. Quirky, cerebral, and disillusioned with conventional views of success, they represent a new generation of players, on the doorstep of adulthood. As the competition intensifies and intricate patterns spill out across the board, the line between reality and imagination starts to blur. Their thoughts turn to anxieties about the future, and lead them on a journey through the game’s ancient past to ask what it means to live a meaningful life. Through an intimate portrait of these young players and interviews with the greatest Go masters of all time, the film explores the search for meaning that Go represents to its players, for whom the game is a distillation of consciousness itself.

ABOUT GOGo is the ultimate game of pure strategy. Two players, black and white, take turns placing stones on the intersections of a 19x19 grid. The goal is to surround as much territory as you can. If a group of stones is completely surrounded on all sides by the opposing color, it is captured and taken off the board. The player with the most points of territory at the end of the game wins.All the intricate and beautiful patterns of Go derive from these simple rules, as groups of stones intertwine and spread across the board, competing for space.

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Contact the filmmakers

Will Lockhart

Will is a longtime member of the American Go community and a 5-dan amateur player, whose ideas for a documentary got the project started. He founded the Brown University Go club in 2010 and worked as a post-production assistant on the HBO pilot CODES OF CONDUCT, edited by Jay Rabinowitz and directed by Steve McQueen. Will is completed a PhD in astrophysics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ and is currently a post-doc at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota.

Cole D. Pruitt

Cole met Will at Brown University and co-founded the American Collegiate Go Association in 2012. He holds a PhD in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St Louis. His science outreach work includes leading the fungal genomics group at SLOPE labs in Oakland, CA, and writing/producing “Where Did We Come From?”, animated by Jorge Cham of PhD Comics.

Richard Miron

Richard Miron is a documentary director and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. He directed, edited, produced and shot the award-winning feature documentary FOR THE BIRDS (NY Times Critics’ Pick, 2019 Critics’ Choice Documentary Award nominee). He co-edited ANONYMOUS SISTER (DOC NYC 2021; dir. Jamie Boyle, prod. Marilyn Ness, Elizabeth Westrate) and co-edited ESTHER NEWTON MADE ME GAY (Dir. Jean Carlomusto, Prod. Shanti Avirgan). Prior to that, Richard assistant-edited LIFE, ANIMATED (2017 Oscar Nominee) and ART AND CRAFT (2015 Oscar shortlist). He earned his B.A. in Art from Yale University. For more of his work, check out

Kate Sanford

Kate is a feature film and episodic television editor who served as a producer and post-production supervisor. Her work includes HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE and all five seasons of THE WIRE, for which she received an ACE award. Among her other credits are the films AMERICAN BUFFALO and OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE, the miniseries SHOW ME A HERO (HBO), and television episodes of THE DEUCE (HBO), SEX AND THE CITY (HBO), and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (AMAZON).

Colin Sonner
Directory of Photography

A veteran filmmaker from Brooklyn, Colin joined as DP in June 2013. His work spans narrative, commercial, and documentary film in dozens of states and several countries, including directing his own short film, MY FATHER'S PRISONERS (2016). See more of his work at

Xiangjun Shi

Shixie (Xiangjun Shi) is an award-winning animator based in Austin. She has a deep interest in physics and science communication, and is an expert at nimble, minimalistic expressions. She graduated in 2013 with B.A. in Physics from Brown University and B.F.A. in Film/Animation/Video from Rhode Island School of Design. For more of her work, check out

Jon Natchez

A multi-instrumentalist specializing in woodwinds and brass, Jon has lent his talents to dozens of bands. He recently won a Grammy as a member of The War on Drugs, was formerly a member of Beirut, and has performed with David Byrne, St. Vincent, The National, and Liza Minnelli, among others. In the film world, Jon has composed scores for The Things We've Seen (2016), The Elvis Room (2016), the Netflix series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On (2017) & Afflicted (2018), Pledge (2018), Boo! (2018), and Mafak [Screwdriver] (2018).

PROJECT HISTORYDirectors Will Lockhart and Cole Pruitt began pre-production in Spring 2012, spurred by the launch of the first Western professional Go certification system. In June 2012 we launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter and began following Ben, Andy, and Curtis as they advanced through the competition. With the support of many of the world's major Go organizations, most notably the Shanghai Ing Foundation, we filmed extensively in Japan, China, Korea, and the United States through 2013. Along the way we gained access to the preeminent Go institutions of East Asia, and captured the first Western interviews with many of the strongest players of all time.The film debuted at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, CA, on April 3, 2017. After screening at film festivals and playing theatrical shows in select cities, the film was released on VOD/DVD on February 15, 2018 and was available on Netflix from 2018-2020.To contact the filmmakers, message us here.