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“9-Man” is a feature documentary about an isolated and exceptionally athletic Chinese-American sport that’s much more than a pastime.
9-man is a streetball game that’s been played in Chinatown for 80 years and completely unknown in the mainstream. It’s fast, chaotic, unpredictable and grueling. Imagine volleyball with 18 guys, dunks, asphalt, bloodied elbows, and 14-year-old boys facing off against a 6’7″ Olympian. The sport is unique to Chinese-Americans and very special to those who play it. Pivoting between oil-spotted Chinatown parking lots and jellyfish-filled banquet scenes, the film captures the gritty spirit of 9-man as players not only battle for a championship but fight to preserve a sport that holds a lot of history.
Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Ursula Liang
Editor: Michelle Chang (“Black and Cuba,” “(A)sexual,” “Camp Victory, Afghanistan”)
Producer: Theresa Navarro (“Yes, We’re Open,” “Daylight Savings”)
About the Production:
“I was a sports journalist earlier in my career and it frustrated me to see how Asian athletes were and were not covered the press. When I first saw 9-man, it defied every stereotype I’d seen in mainstream coverage: guys had confidence, swagger, height and muscles. This Chinatown warrior-sport is something to embrace and be proud of. And its roots as a pastime for restaurant workers and laundrymen are fascinating. This is an important slice of Chinatown history that deserves to be preserved and told in a way that honors the nuances and struggles of the community.” — Ursula Liang
Moving into post-production
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