When one thinks of Asian Americans, sports rarely comes to mind.
When one thinks of table tennis, excitement and plastic balls whirling at 80 miles per hour aren’t likely images that surface.
The documentary Top Spin making its debut in New York this Friday for a one week run at Cinema Village is out to change that.
The movie by Mina T Son and Sara Newens follows three table tennis athletes, including two Asian Americans, with Olympic dreams.
The journey all three take with their families is the focus of the film. Along the way, we learn more about the competitors; Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Michael Landers; and the motivation behind their intense training.
Said David Shih in a review for AsAmNews, David Shih wrote:
“Top Spin is well-paced and benefits from the natural tension that comes with watching a competitive sport. You root for all three players. But I was struck by the attention the film paid to Zhang during a match with a tough 42-year old competitor. “When you walk out on the court, everybody’s staring at you. It can be a little bit intimidating,” Zhang says. “As a part of the mental game I try to block out all of the crowd.” At that point, the directors mute the diegetic crowd noise for a moment so that the viewer experiences the match from Zhang’s point of view. This is a familiar trope in sports films, but it may be a first for Asian Americans. More please.”
Son is a Korean American filmmaker out of Los Angeles and twice has been a Student Academy Award Regional finalist. Co-director Newens has worked in film and television for over a decade and is the recipient of multiple awards.