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by Sheila Maria Lobo
July 8th, 2011

We were very excited to hear that directors Sarah Newens and Mina T. Son are turning their Rooftop Alum short documentary Top Spin into a feature exploring the world of competitive table tennis. This time, they will be following U.S. national champions Ariel Hsing and Michael Landers as they train and attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

In 2009, Michael Landers was crowned the youngest ever U.S. Men’s Singles Champion, and at just age 15. Ariel Hsing, also age 15, became the country’s youngest ever Women’s Singles Champion in 2010. But despite clearly having achieved success far beyond their years, these two athletes are not exempt from the grueling requirements of also being just American teenagers.  The film will provide a look at how, amidst rigorous training and a strict tournament schedule, they also struggle to balance the SATs and college applications.

Even more difficult will be the ultimate question looming behind so much hard work, sweat, and tears: what will it all lead to, and is it really worth it, with no professional table tennis outlet in the U.S.? Sarah and Mina will capture it all – the fresh rubber rackets, the hollow plastic balls, the small and great victories and defeats. But in order to make this exciting documentary a reality, they need your support.

$20,000 is needed to fund the international, live-action shoots. Shoot #1 is set for July 6th, during which Ariel will play against her idol, Zhang Yining. Shoot #2 will showcase Michael training in either Germany or China. And these are just the beginning — Sarah and Mina will be following the two athletes all the way until the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. But they have just 30 days to reach their goal, and only you can get them there! Pledge now, tell friends, post on facebook, and help kickstart Top Spin.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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