Ursula Liang’s Award-Winning Documentary 9-Man screens on America ReFramed on May 26, 2020 on World Channel at 4pm PST/6pm CST/ 7pm EST. Check your local PBS listings.
After the film (before, for West Coast folks), at 8:40 EST, Liang will be host an Instagram Live with subjects and crew from the film, featuring an Olympian, chicken/trout enthusiast, railroad worker, dentist and more! Please join @9mandoc for the IG LIVE.
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.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. 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, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young.
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