Catch 9-Man and My Life in China in time for Lunar New Year

Photo from "My Life in China," directed by Kenneth Eng.
Photo from "My Life in China," directed by Kenneth Eng.

Just in time for Lunar New Year, catch these two award-winning documentaries on World Channel’s America ReFramed series.

9-Man | Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Much more than an urban pastime, 9-Man is a competitive Chinese-American sport with roots that trace back to the Toisan region of Guangdong province. In North America, the game was a way for Chinese workers to escape the drudgery of menial labor during an era of extreme discrimination. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — the first U.S. immigration law targeting a single ethnic group — constrained the formation of Chinese families, effectively creating Chinatown “bachelor societies” where men outnumbered women by huge ratios. In the 1930’s, a traveling 9-Man tournament emerged, and helped create fraternity within a community plagued by unjust stereotypes of Asian masculinity.

Today, 9-Man provides a lasting connection to culture and community pride for men that know a different, more integrated America. Following several teams over the course of one season, 9-Man captures the spirit of 9-Man as teams prepare for battle on gritty asphalt streets and oil-spotted Chinatown parking lots throughout North America and fight for the championship in Boston. While the elders question how to pass the torch, the next generation struggles with maintaining tradition in gentrified urban centers while the community becomes increasingly multi-ethnic. What does the future hold for this streetball battle?

Catch the encore presentation of the CAAM-funded documentary, with additional screenings through the week. Find your local station.

My Life in China | Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Director Kenneth Eng‘s father would often tell him and his brother the story of how he walked for seven days and six nights before swimming for four hours to escape poverty and Communism. In 2007, Eng accompanied his father on a visit to rural China for the first time in 18 years to retrace the perilous steps his father chanced in search of a better life. Eng’s father reflects, “In 1966, everyone wanted to go to the U.S. People were starving.” His father was one of thousands to make the journey.

Despite being educated, the only work Eng’s father could secure in the U.S. was in fast-food Chinese restaurants. Although he eventually worked his way to owning a restaurant, his accomplishment was short-lived when the business shuttered due to bankruptcy. Most days, Eng’s father cares for his wife who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Believing he failed in his goal of attaining the American dream, Eng’s father earnestly considers a move back to China.

My Life in China explores the universal themes of home, exile and belonging, as well as contrasting the elusive American dream with life in modern China and the emerging Chinese dream. Conflicting and heart-wrenching emotions come to the fore as memories from the past collide with the present. With his father, Eng not only witnesses but participates in ritual and shared meals, connecting him to tradition, ancestry and family bonds shaping his identity.

As a result of the documentary process, intensified by his father’s deep love and quiet strength, Eng finds his true self revealed through the camera lens. Poignant and life affirming, the film is a universal story about promise, purpose and living life without regrets.

CAAM is proud to co-present the Facebook Live stream of the documentary with filmmaker Kenneth Eng and moderated by Michael Tow on Tuesday, January 31 from 8-9:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm PST.