Tune in to the U.S. Broadcast premiere of Ursula Liang’s Award-winning documentary 9-Man on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 8 p.m. on WORLD Channel as part of the third season of the America ReFramed series. The full director’s cut of the film will be broadcast, followed by a conversation with director Ursula Liang and historian John Kuo Wei “Jack” Tchen (New York University, Museum of Chinese in America).
Click here for a free lifestream on PBS.org through Saturday, May 9, 2015.
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 am thrilled that it is airing on the World Channel.
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.
WINNER: Documentary Feature Competition, CAAMFest
WINNER: Directors’ Choice Award, Seattle Asian American Film Festival
WINNER: Audience Award, Boston Asian American Film Festival
WINNER: Grand Jury Award, Austin Asian American Film Festival
WINNER: Special Jury Prize: Best Director, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
WINNER: Audience Award, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
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
Stay tuned to the social media (@9mandoc) and website (www.9-man.com) for station updates and additional information (please check your local listings for America ReFramed–9-Man will appear as an episode of this series). The best way to keep up with all our announcements in one place is to RSVP to our Facebook event invitation:
About America ReFramed:
America ReFramed is a co-production of the WORLD Channel and American Documentary, Inc. and is hosted by journalist Natasha Del Toro.
Through the lens of independent documentaries, America ReFramed brings to national audiences compelling stories that illuminate the changing contours of an ever-evolving America. The 26-week, social-issue documentary series presents an array of personal voices and experiences, through which we learn from our past, understand our present and are challenged to seek new frameworks for America’s future.
Season three of America ReFramed curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging to veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from the streets of towns big and small to the ex-burbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. The documentaries invite audiences to reflect on topics as varied as culture, healthcare, politics, gun violence, religion and more. Hosted by journalist Natasha Del Toro, several episodes will feature a roundtable discussion with special guest commentators and filmmakers.
America ReFramed has won five 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Awards, three Telly Awards, a Gracie Award and recently was nominated for its second national Imagen Award, which honors films featuring Latinos and their culture in television and film.
Ursula Liang’s 9-MAN among 2015 CAAMFest Award Winners; East Bay Premiere at The New Parkway Theater on March 22
CAAMFest Presents Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man: Northern California Premiere at the Great Star Theatre on March 13; East Bay Premiere at The New Parkway Theater on March 22
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 has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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