CCBA, CHSNE Hold Press Conference on Volleyball and Film 9-Man

By David Li,

Boston, April 15, 2014, — A press conference was held at CCBA-NE’s conference room in the afternoon of April 13 in Boston Chinatown. CCBA president Hung Goon announced a cooperation effort alongside the North American Chinese Volleyball Association-Boston chapter (NACVA-Boston) to organize volleyball tournaments this summer in Chinatown. Sherry Dong, board president of the Chinese Historical Society of New England (CHSNE), announced that a reception will be hosted by CHSNE right after the world premier of documentary film 9-man on April 27 at Somerville Theatre.
(L to R)Mr. Guen of Boston Knights, Dr. Robert Guen, Hung Goon and Sherry Dong at the press conference (photo by David Li).

Volleyball has been an important activity in the community for over sixty years and it’s past participants have included many prominent members of Chinatown history including Henry Oi, Jimmy Wong, Shue Pon Lee, Arthur Wong, the late Reggie Wong and other leaders.

The nine-man volleyball game was brought to the US by immigrants from Taishan, China in the 1930s. According to Dr. Guen, people in Taishan invented the nine-man volleyball game in the early 20th century after volleyball was introduced to them by missionaries from the US. CCBA has been a past lead sponsor of the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament which will again be held in Boston in three years.

NACVA Association leaders Harry Aue and Dr. Robert Guen announced that the premier showing of the six year production of the Documentary Film 9-Man. This film features the aforementioned leaders and their participation as players and organizers of Nine Man Chinese Volleyball which began in the Chinatowns of the early laundry and restaurant workers. This ongoing activity is still sustained today as it has been passed along to succeeding generations.

CCBA President Hung Goon will spearhead a joint effort to assist the NACVA plans to heavily utilize Reggie Wong Memorial Park this year to serve as the training ground for the men and women teams that will include the Chinese Freemasons, the Boston Knights, the Boston Hurricanes, and newer immigrant teams from Taishan, China. The teams will participate in competition in New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Toronto-Canada, and finally at the major event in Las Vegas.

In the left picture below, three former nine-man volleyball players (from left) Bill Chin, Jeffrey Wong and Frank Chin posed for a picture. They were in the old group photo of the Boston team arriving at an airport in Chicago for a volleyball tournament in the 1960s. The picture was brought to the Goon Family Association’s 2014 Spring banquet by Frank Chin, also known as Uncle Frank in Chinatown.

Introduction of Documentary Film 9-Man

9-Man is a story about streetball battle in the heart of Chinatown featuring a chaotic, Chinese-only game played in parking lots and alleys since 1938.

Pivoting between oil-spotted asphalt and jellyfish-filled banquets, the film captures the spirit of nine-man as players gun for a championship and fight to preserve a sport with deep history.

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.

URSULA LIANG (Director, Producer, Cinematographer) 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”, TNT’s “Save Our Business” and the independent documentary “Tough Love” with Stephanie Wang-Breal (world premiere: Full Frame 2014; IFFBoston 2014).

Liang also works as a senior publicist for the film publicity company The 2050 Group which has represented Oscar-nominated and festival-winning films and is a founding member of the Filipino American Museum. She is in pre-production on a feature documentary with Nadia Hallgren called “The Back Room.” Liang grew up in Newton, MA and lives in The Bronx, NY. “9-Man” is her debut as a director.

Independent Film Festival of Boston
Sunday, April 27 @ 1:00pm
Somerville Theatre @ 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA