Inside a cramped, no-frills gym, the clacking sounds of hollow plastic balls whirling at 80 mph are punctuated by exclamations of victory and bitter cries of defeat. Welcome to the hidden world of competitive ping pong.
Three fiercely committed teenagers battle their way through the world of elite table tennis. With devoted parents by their side, they have traded normal teenage life for a chance to represent their country on the world’s biggest athletic stage: the Olympics.
An inside look at an offbeat sport, Top Spin turns one of America’s favorite pastimes on its head and reveals a coming-of-age story where success and failure come down to mere millimeters. Top Spin reveals how Ariel, Michael, and Lily balance rivalry, teenage awkwardness and friendships as every match impacts their fledgling confidence. Regularly juggling six-hour training sessions, overseas tournaments, and schoolwork, they inevitably sacrifice the typical teenage rites of passage.
Co-Director and producer Mina T. Son is a Los Angeles-based Korean American filmmaker whose films have screened at film festivals and museums including the National Gallery of Art, Margaret Mead, Traverse City, Mill Valley, and Cinequest. A two-time Student Academy Award Regional Finalist, Mina has been awarded fellowships and funding from Independent Television Service, Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, Film Independent, PBS/CPB Producers Academy, the Japan U.S. Friendship Commission, and Center for Cultural Innovation. Mina holds an M.F.A. in Documentary Film from Stanford University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Top Spin is her first feature film.
Co-Director and editor Sara Newens is a documentary filmmaker who has worked in film and television for over a decade, including seven years at CBS News in New York City. Her films have screened at numerous festivals, including DOC NYC, Sarasota, Traverse City, Nashville, Big Sky and Rooftop Films. She is the recipient of a Princess Grace Foundation Award, CINE Golden Eagle Award, and a Student Academy Award Regional Finalist. Currently, she is a San Francisco-based producer/editor for clients that include Facebook, Instagram, PG&E, and various independent films and organizations. She is a graduate of the M.F.A. Documentary Film and Video Program at Stanford University, and received a B.S. in Mass Communication from Miami University of Ohio. Top Spin is her first feature film.
Directors – Sara Newens & Mina T. Son
Run Time – 81 minutes
Language – English & Mandarin w/ English Subtitles
Format – Digital (DCP & BluRay)
Year – 2014
TOP SPIN Opens October 23 in New York at Cinema Village
“‘Top Spin’ grips, exhilarates and breaks hearts like the 1994 film ‘Hoop Dreams.’” – Martin Tsai, Los Angeles Times
“Quick-moving, kinetically edited…Highlights virtuoso bursts of energy and edge-clipping shots that cinch a game, Top Spin goes a long way toward building a mystique around the little table at the center of all those blink-of-an-eye flurries.” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety
“Terrific… thrilling slow-motion demonstrations of game technique.” – Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly
“Irresistible. It’s a paradox worth noting, and savoring, that the most dramatic movie of the week doesn’t have a script.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal