CAAMFest is presenting the Northern California premiere of Ursula Liang’s Award winning documentary 9-Man on Friday, March 13th at 6:45pm at the Great Star Theatre, 636 Jackson St, San Francisco, California 94133, and the East Bay premiere on Sunday, March 22nd at 7:30pm at The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland, CA 94612. Click here for tickets.
O & A will feature director Ursula Liang, composer Scott “Chops” Jung and the SF crew – Stef Liang Chung, Mike Chung, Grace Kao, Lanlian Szeto, Seng Chen, John Fan.
I caught Ursula Liang’s 9-Man at a packed screening at the DOC NYC Festival at SVA Theater in New York last November and loved it. By chance, I found myself in line behind 9-Man players Paul Chin and Patrick “2E” Chin, two brothers featured in the film, who joined Liang onstage after the screening for a Q & A.
A consummate storyteller, Liang’s documentary filmmaking debut with 9-Man is first rate –a thrilling fast paced ride that introduces the audience to the isolated and exceptionally athletic Chinese-American sport (Volleyball), that’s much more than a pastime.
Liang’s brother played 9-Man, and her intimate knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport is evident in her celebration of the athleticism of Chinese American men, portrayed in a way that I have rarely witnessed on screen. 9-Man also features a comprehensive look at the history of discrimination against Chinese Americans in the United States. I laughed, I cried, and I look forward to sharing the film with many others once it is released on DVD.
Since the 1930’s, young men have played this gritty, streetball game competitively in the alleys and parking lots of Chinatown. When the community was a Bachelor Society (men outnumbered women 4-to-1) 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 for 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. 9-Man introduces the history of the game and a diverse cast of modern-day characters — from 6’7″ Olympian Kevin Wong to a 91-year-old pioneer — combining vérité footage and interviews with never before seen archival footage and photos sourced directly from the community. Pivoting between oil-spotted Chinatown parking lots and jellyfish-filled banquet scenes, the film captures the spirit of nine-man as players not only battle for a championship but fight to preserve a sport that holds so much history.
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. www.9-man.com
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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
Lia Chang Picks: Ursula Liang’s 9-Man Screens at George Mason Arlington Campus – Founders Hall Auditorium on December 12 & 13; Wins Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary (AAAFF)
Nov. 15: Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man Screens in DOC NYC Festival at SVA Theater
Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man, Makes West Coast Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
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.
Other Articles by Lia Chang:
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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Advantageous, Oh Lucy!, Meru, Umrika, The Chinese Mayor, The Stanford Prison Experiment Among 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners
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Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
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