“AN ABSORBING DOCUMENTARY” -Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

“9-Man brings Chinese American men into a dazzling, complicated light.” -Stephanie Barbé Hammer, U.C. Riverside

a “lively, layered debut documentary” -Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

“an absorbing and interesting look at a culture within a monoculture, and the history of Asian integration—and separation—in North America.” -Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star/TSN

“9-Man provides its audience with an exciting and entertaining cultural base for the game, using personal stories from several generations of the Chinese-American men who played it. The heart and soul of 9-Man is pride of place and culture. Outstanding!” -Geraldine Rodriguez, retired 11th and 12th grade teacher, JFKennedy High School, Somers, New York

"I celebrate how 9-Man addresses and subsequently challenges racial stereotypes. Students and faculty of color can struggle to find mirrors, so I felt a refreshing sense of familiarity and comfort while watching the film. The nuances of Asian-American life are front and center and provide an ideal talking and entry point for many students exploring their own racial identity." -Derek Palamore, Teacher, Milton Academy

“9-Man is a peephole into the beautiful kaleidoscope of Chinese-American culture. 9-Man allowed a lifelong Bostonian to see a beautiful, fun, unique sport with the most unique characters I've ever seen. Fun, engaging, heart-wrenching, and thoroughly enjoyable.” -Tito Jackson, Boston City Councilor 



"After watching 9-Man, you and your students will inevitably enjoy peeling back the layers and uncovering the intersections of race and gender, body politics and the politics of protecting a sense of self. A fascinating and important sport spectacle, 9-Man opens a window to Asian-American male identity and the pressures to maintain one's tradition and passion for sport. Liang's film is a sure ACE."  -Millery Polyné, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, Associate Professor, New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Study

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Rated for ages 13+ by the National Film Board of Canada.


★ “This informative and tremendously entertaining work by a talented new voice in documentary filmmaking captures not only the excitement and competitiveness of this non-mainstream sport but also its historical and cultural significance. A must see for viewers interested in either sports or Asian American studies." -Douglas King, Library Journal

★★★ 1/2 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED--> “Part cultural anthropology, part sports film, 9-Man, which aired on PBS’s America ReFramed series, is highly recommended.” -C. Cassady, Video Librarian Magazine

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED--> “The film is first a very entertaining sports film appropriate for general audiences ranging from teenagers to adults. As a documentary vividly illustrating the cultural anthropology of the North American Chinatown communities that have supported this sport over the past 80 years, it will be a valuable education resource for college and university Asian studies programs.” -Gary D. Byrd, University at Buffalo (SUNY), Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

“9-Man is an exceptional work. It documents a little-known piece of Chinese American cultural history, highlighting the ways in which Chinatown’s immigrant community found pride and integrity in the margins, building a sport that is wholly their own. It is a riveting, deftly-told story about tradition and identity, the arc that connects Taishan to Boston, and the ways in which distant generations come alive, together, on city asphalt, around a repurposed volleyball.” -Hua Hsu, Vassar College, Author of ‘A Floating Chinaman’ and Contributing Writer at The New Yorker

“9-Man is a scholarly, artful, hip and above-all-else truthful document of a sports subculture that refracts light onto the joy, sorrow, honor, hope, past, present and future of larger and enduring cultural issues.  As you watch, you say giddily to yourself “I can’t believe this really exists.”  And, the subjects of the documentary seem to secretly and reassuringly think and say to themselves and each other the very same thing.” -David Hollander, J.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, NYU's Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business



"I thought the 9-man documentary was refreshing. It showcased a different side of Asian culture, my culture, that I had never experienced before. And I was pleased to see some reconciliation between my interest in volleyball and my cultural identity. While I understand the need to maintain the sense of culture, I am somewhat conflicted about the heritage rules in 9-man. All in all, an engaging, interesting documentary that presents Chinese culture in a completely different light than what I'm used to seeing, a portrayal that's nuanced, unconventional, and in some ways more accurate." -Melody Tan, High School Senior

"Something in 9-Man that stood out to me was the vehement interest among non-Asians to not only watch but to engage in the game. I am used to seeing people advocating for more minority participation in both political and recreational causes, but 9-Man exposed me to a scenario where the situation is reversed --- white, black, and multiracial people eager to play, but, ironically, are not allowed to. It is nice to see that spectators, regardless of their ethnicities, embrace the culture of 9-Man and accept it's semi-exclusive rules as Asian Americans' means to protect their heritage. I think the documentary 9-Man does a good job portraying the history and implication of an activity like 9-Man, a tradition that has morphed to accord with the western culture but has also endured the pressure to abandon cultures from home." -Belle Chen, High School Senior

"I enjoyed watching 9-Man and it was interesting to see the insulation of the sport. I think it was good to see how Asian-Americans were portrayed in the movie because with my background, I felt a connection to a few of them and how their eligibility was questioned because they don't 'look Asian.'" -Evan Jenness, High School Freshman

Check 9-Man out at these great institutions: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Duke University, Stanford University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, City University of New York, York University, University of Toronto, Bates College, Oberlin College, Amherst College, Iowa State University, Emory University, Columbia University, University of Denver, Bryn Mawr College, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Washington State University, Santa Clara Public Library, Chinese Historical Society of New England, University of Houston-Downtown, Milton Academy, University of British Columbia, Brown University, Emerson College, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chinese American Museum of Chicago, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, George Mason University, Taft High School, the ASU School of Social Transformation, University of Richmond, Suffolk University, Ithaca College, Cornell University, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, UC Santa Barbara and more!


The official 9-Man Digital Educator's Guide was created by a team of great folks at the NFB's Education division and includes context for both U.S. and Canadian students. The film and study guide can be used to provide a glimpse into the histories of Chinese American and Canadian people, focusing on sport and cultural history; provide a point of discussion for the role of sport in identity formation and community building (i.e. for immigrants, citizens, refugees); and provoke a discussion of how notions of membership, inclusion, exclusion and boundaries are determined, how they are reinforced and the consequences of in/exclusion.,