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.
Organised 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.