Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man Screens in DOC NYC Festival at SVA Theater

I have been waiting for the moment to have the opportunity to see Ursula Liang’s award-winning documentary 9-Man on the big screen. This Saturday, November 15, 2014,  9-Man screens in the DOC NYC Festival at SVA Theater on 333 W 23rd Street (between 8th and 9th Aves) in New York at 2 P.M. Expected to Attend: Ursula Liang, editor Michelle Chang, in person Paul Chin and Patrick “2E” Chin.

Click here to purchase tickets.
9-Man is an independent feature documentary about an isolated and exceptionally athletic Chinese-American sport that’s much more than a pastime. Since the 1930’s, young men have played this gritty, streetball game competitively in the streets, alleys and parking lots of Chinatown. When the community was a Bachelor Society (men outnumbered women by huge percentages) at a time when anti-Chinese sentiment and laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act forced Chinese restaurant workers and laundrymen to socialize exclusively amongst themselves, nine-man offered both escape and fraternity to men who were separated from their families in China and facing extreme discrimination and distrust. Today, some 80 years later, nine-man is a lasting connection to Chinatown for a community of men who know a different, more integrated America and it’s a game that has grown exponentially in athleticism. Nine-man punctuates each summer with a vibrant, aggressive, exhausting bragging-rights tournament that unites thousands of Chinese-Americans and maintains traditional rules and customs—sometimes to the malcontent of outsiders.

9-Man introduces the history of the game and spotlights a chorus of modern-day characters—from 6’7″ Olympian Kevin Wong to a 91-year-old pioneer—combining direct cinema footage and interviews with archival footage and photos sourced directly from the community. The film follows teams in four main cities through the summer as they prepare for the Labor Day championship in Boston. Pivoting between oil-spotted Chinatown parking lots, jellyfish-filled banquet scenes, sweat-drenched summer practices and intimate home scenes, the film captures the spirit of nine-man and Asian-American life as players not only battle for a trophy but struggle to preserve a faded tradition in the face of a society rife with change.

What the critics are saying:

“…a thoroughly enjoyable story, with endearing characters, [that explores] some really tough and sensitive race issues that most people wouldn’t dare touch.” -Malika Zouhali-Worrall, director, “Call Me Kuchu”

“…this film gutted me. I was at the edge of my seat, really WITH every character. Loving them, routing for them, on their journey.” -Ariel Schudson, Sinamatic Salve-ation

“9-Man is a surprisingly funny, sharp and nuanced conversation about contemporary Asian Americana. -Jenn Fang, Reappropriate

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang

A note from filmmaker Ursula Liang
I have spent the last six years of my life working on a film called 9-Man. Your last chance to see it in the theaters in NYC is this Saturday, 2pm at the SVA Theater. It’s part of the festival, DOC NYC, which is a prestigious documentary showcase with all of the major industry players in attendance and probably all of the short-list Oscar nominees. 9-Man is my first film, and a humble little indie in a sea of blockbuster docs. I would love it if you would come out this weekend to support me.

It’s impossible to get anyone to commit to anything in this city, but I hope you will make the effort to see 9-Man in the theaters. It’s played incredibly well in the festival circuit. We’ve sold out many screenings and gotten standing ovations. An 8-year old boy left our screening in San Diego and said to his mom: “I’m proud to be Chinese-American.” The energy that has surfaced in the theaters has been amazing, and watching this on DVD on on TV (yes these are in our future!) won’t compare to seeing it in the theaters, being a part of an incredible community. We expect NY to be a raucous screening!

You’ll get a chance to meet players and legends and our incredible crew (some coming from out of town).

I worked incredibly hard to learn the craft of documentary and dig deep into this story. I racked up thousands of miles on the Chinatown busses, lugged heavy equipment across the country, sweat through countless 15-hour, 90-degree days–all you have to do is show up and watch!

Please join me this weekend and help spread the word. It would mean a lot to me!


URSULA LIANG (Director, Producer, Director of Photography) is a journalist who has told stories in a wide range of media. A former staff editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine; and writer/reporter at ESPN The Magazine. Liang was a host of the radio program Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI, associate producer for the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Wo Ai Ni Mommy”, producer for the Emmy-nominated Asian American TV show “Stir”, and sports editor for the Asian-American magazine, Hyphen. She recently produced for Fuel’s “UFC Countdown”, FX’s “UFC Primetime” and the independent documentary “Fighting Foster”. Liang grew up in Newton, MA and lives in The Bronx, NY. Her brother played 9-Man.

Facebook invite:

Group tickets 10+:


Other articles by Lia Chang:

Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man, Makes West Coast Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Stephen Adly Guirgis to Receive the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the Seventh Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on November 17
Six Questions for Melody Butiu, Currently Appearing as Estrella in David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s Here Lies Love at The Public
Costume Institute’s Spring 2015 Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum to Focus on Chinese Imagery in Art, Film, and Fashion, May 7–August 16, 2015
Signature Theatre Presents World Premiere of OUR LADY OF KIBEHO by Katori Hall through December 7, 2014
Nov. 17: Chapman Roberts, Loretta Abbott, André De Shields, David Greer, Norm Lewis, Cherine Anderson, Lawrence Evans, Colby Christina & Nicholas A. Jenkins to Receive Special AUDELCO Awards
2014 AUDELCO Nominations Announced; Ceremony at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space on November 17
Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home From The Wars, Extends at The Public Theater through November 30
Opening Night Photos: Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks at The Public Theater
Photos: André De Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Jose Llana, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kyle Beltran, Kim Brockington and More at The Fortress of Solitude 
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days
Photos: Art Salon with Artist Yang Chihung and Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang at New-York Historical Society
Photos: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion on View through April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream 
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at


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