Directed by Mina T. Son, Sara Newens
Official Selection, 2014 DOC NYC
Audience Award for Documentary, 2015 CAAMFest
Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Michael Landers are ordinary teenagers except for the fact that they are among the highest-ranked table tennis players in the nation. Their parents too are everyday Bay Area Chinese immigrants or middle class New Yorkers except that they have the unique challenge of seeing their children to the cusp of world championship. Together, the families devise workout regiments and nurture an environment for athletic and personal growth.
In a sport that’s better associated with the rec room than the Olympic stage, table tennis affords little glamour, but as captured in Mina T. Son and Sara Newens’ inspiring documentary, requires a physical and mental precision as strenuous as any athlete’s. But beyond the sweat is the story of three young people magnificently juggling success and school, self and competition, friendship and mentorship. What makes TOP SPIN such a smash to watch is how seamlessly it moves from suburban high school to world-class training facility: the very path navigated by Ariel, Lily, and Michael season after season, carrying their Olympic dreams with the charisma and confidence of teenagers discovering who they can still be. –Brian Hu
Producer: Mina T. Son