Olympic Channel’s “The Iron Hammer” to Premiere 7 June in the “We Are One” Film Festival Benefiting the World Health Organisation


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MADRID – Featuring the inspiring life and career of international volleyball icon Lang Ping, the Olympic Channel original film The Iron Hammer documents how Lang moved abroad after captaining the Chinese national team to a historic gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games to forge a trailblazing career as a national team coach for both the United States and China. Part of the award-winning Five Rings Films collection and directed by acclaimed actress and filmmaker Joan Chen, The Iron Hammer will premiere on Sunday, 7 June at 4:30 p.m. EDT as an official selection of the “We Are One: A Global Film Festival” which takes place on YouTube from 29 May to 7 June 2020. The film will launch on the Olympic Channel global digital platform later this year.

Organized by Tribeca Enterprises, “We Are One: A Global Film Festival” is an unprecedented 10-day online film festival co-curated by more than 20 film festivals from around the world. All funds raised by the festival benefit the COVID-19 solidarity relief fund for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Known as the “Iron Hammer” for her powerful spikes, Hall of Famer Lang Ping is one of China’s most beloved sports figures. She became a national symbol for China’s rise to international sports success after leading the national volleyball team to a world title and an historic Olympic gold medal in the 1980’s. Then, at the height of her fame, Lang moved to the United States to learn English and spread her love of the game abroad. She coached Team USA to an Olympic silver medal in 2008 before returning to China where she defied expectations to become the first person in volleyball history to win a gold medal as both a player and coach when she guided the Chinese team to victory at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

The Iron Hammer (99 minutes) is directed by acclaimed actress, writer and filmmaker Joan Chen and is the Olympic Channel’s first female-directed documentary. With a career spanning decades, Chen is one of the most well-known Chinese figures in film and TV in the world.

“I’ve been a fan of Lang Ping’s since we first met at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and have followed her career ever since,” said Chen. “Many admire Lang Ping not only for her accomplishments on the volleyball court, but also for her unique combination of strength and grace that helped her to conquer new and foreign challenges. From her experiences in China to the United States, I consider Lang Ping a kindred spirit whose life journey intimately parallels my own. So when the chance came for me to direct this film and tell her story, I jumped on it.”

Following an ambitious two-year filmmaking journey around the world, the inspirational film features behind-the-scenes access to Lang Ping’s historic career, exclusive archive footage from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and interviews from a “who’s who” of international volleyball figures. Bringing The Iron Hammer to life are interviews with Chinese Olympians Xu Yunli, Wei Qiuyue, Zhu Ting, Chen Zhonghe and Gu Huaqun, and Team USA Olympians Debbie Green, Paula Weishoff, Laurel Brassey-Iversen, Nicole Davis, Kim Glass and Heather Brown. Additional insight comes from interviews with family members, academia and media personalities including Peter Ueberroth, Su Chang, Cui Jia, Ma Yin, Bill Shaikin, Phil Hersh and Ace Asas.

Five Rings Films, the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, is a series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world. In addition to depictions of iconic individuals and record-breaking teams, each feature length film showcases the incredible humanity, variety and achievements of the modern Olympic era. It’s next film, Rulon Gardner Won’t Die, premieres worldwide on Wednesday, 3 June at olympicchannel.com and on its apps for mobile and connected TV devices.

Five Rings Films is produced exclusively for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) global media platform by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM). Marshall, whose producing credits include legendary titles such as “Jason Bourne,” “Jurassic World” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, serves as executive producer alongside MSM’s Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach whose recent credits include “The Last Dance”. Greg Groggel serves as executive producer for the Olympic Channel.

Offering year-round coverage of Olympic sports and elite athletes in their quest for success, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Channel over-the-top (OTT) streaming service is available worldwide and subscription-free at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on connected TV devices.

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About Olympic Channel

The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform global media destination where fans can discover, engage and share in the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round. Offering original programming, news, live sports events and highlights, the Olympic Channel provides additional exposure for sports and athletes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 12 languages. The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 in support of the IOC’s goal, set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic Movement. Founding Partners supporting the Olympic Channel are Worldwide TOP Partners Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba. The Olympic Channel is available worldwide at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and the Roku platform.

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ABOUT DIRECTOR JOAN CHEN

Joan Chen one of the most widely recognized and respected Asian stars in the international film industry. The Iron Hammer is her first documentary, just the latest project in a decorated and varied career. She began her movie career at age of 14 in Shanghai. Her performance in the films Youth and Little Flower catapulted her to fame in China. For her breakthrough performance in the title role of Little Flower, Chen garnered the Best Actress Award in China in 1980 when she was 19. In 1981, Chen left China for the United States to study film at California State University, Northridge, where she graduated with honours. In the US, Joan has appeared in over 40 film and TV roles, including Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning The Last Emperor (1987), David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series (1990), and Oliver Stone’s Heaven and Earth (1993).

At the same time, Joan continued to make films for Asian audiences. Her memorable performance in the Chinese language film Red Rose and White Rose won her Best Actress in the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Critics Awards in 1994. In 1997, Joan made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Xiu Xiu, The Sent-down Girl, a story of the loss of innocence of a young girl during the cultural revolution in China. The film was released in May 1999 and has received numerous awards internationally. In the same year, Joan was voted as one of the “Ten Directors to Watch” by Variety. Joan’s second effort behind the camera was MGM’s Autumn In New York, starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder in 2000. Between 2003 and 2006, Joan returned to China to star in three Chinese films, Jasmine, a story of three generations of women in Shanghai from the 1930s to the 1980s; Sunflower, a family drama that spans from the 1970s to the present; and The Sun Also Rises, a story about human desire and pleasure in the darkest time of the Cultural Revolution.

In the same period, Joan came back to the US and played the character of Ma in a Sony Classic production, Saving Face, a film about a poignant relationship between a Chinese mother and her lesbian Chinese American daughter. Chen also played a crucial supporting role in Ang Lee’s Lust Caution, which won the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award for best picture.

In 2007, Joan starred in an Australian film The Home Song Stories. For her portrayal of the leading character, Rose, in this tragic and triumphant story of a mother’s struggle to support her children, Chen won Best Actress in the Australian Film Institute Awards, the Inside Film Awards and Film Critics Awards in 2007. She also won Best Actress for the same role in the Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards and in the Torino Film Festival.

Joan lives in San Francisco with her husband, Dr. Peter Hui and their two daughters.

Editor’s Notes:

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