USA Table Tennis News World Theatrical Pre...

World Theatrical Premiere of Documentary TOP SPIN in Los Angeles on August 21

By Mina T. Son | Aug. 11, 2015, 10:09 p.m. (ET)

Topspin the Movie

World Theatrical Premiere of Documentary TOP SPIN in Los Angeles on August 21

Filmmakers and Olympic Table Tennis Players in Attendance Opening Weekend for Q&As and Ping Pong Demonstrations

JOOLA Ping Pong Table Giveaway -- Every attendee to any TOP SPIN screening will receive a raffle ticket for the chance to win a JOOLA Competition Table, the official table of USATT!  

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 table tennis.

Top Spin is a feature-length documentary about three fiercely committed teenagers – Ariel Hsing, Michael Landers, and Lily Zhang – who 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 underappreciated sport, Top Spin turns one of America's favorite pastimes on its head and tells a coming-of-age story where success and failure come down to mere millimeters. Top Spin reveals how Ariel, Michael, and Lily balance rivalry, adolescence, 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 for a once in a lifetime chance to become an Olympian.

Filmmakers Sara Newens and Mina T. Son spent over three years making Top Spin. After premiering the film at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the country, Top Spin has gone on to win numerous awards including the Audience Award for Best Documentary at CAAMFest in San Francisco and the Best Editing Award in Documentary at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. “We are thrilled to finally be able to share this film with audiences, especially those who love table tennis. We’ve made it this far because of the support of our subjects and their families, but also because of the tremendous support we’ve received from the larger table tennis community,” said directors Newens and Son.

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.

"If you were a fan of 'Spellbound,' put 'Top Spin' on your must-see list." - Nashville Scene

"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


8/19 Sneak Preview Screening


Laemmle Playhouse 7
673 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

8/21-27 Los Angeles Theatrical Release

3:10, 5:20 & 7:30
Laemmle Playhouse 7
673 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

*Tickets go on sale 8/18:

Ping Pong Demonstrations at Laemmle Playhouse 7

Erica Wu (2012 U.S. Olympian), Grant Li (2015 U.S. National Team Member), Adam Bobrow (Professional Ping Pong Player and Actor) and Kim Gilbert (Professional Ping Pong Player) will be at Playhouse 7 August 19 & 21 to 23 for ping pong demonstrations on a JOOLA table outside the theater beginning at 7pm.


8/24 at 7:30pm
Laemmle Noho
5240 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
*post-screening Q&A

8/25 at 7:30pm
Laemmle Royal
11523 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
*post-screening Q&A

8/26 at 7:30pm
Laemmle's Claremont
Claremont Village Square, 450 W 2nd St, Claremont, CA 91711
*post-screening Q&A

Related Athletes

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Lily Zhang

Table Tennis
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Ariel Hsing

USA Table Tennis
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Erica Wu

USA Table Tennis