Sundance 2013: “Linsanity: The Movie” Pushes Racial Boundaries

04 Feb, 2013

Article by Cindy Maram

During the recent 2013 Sundance Film Festival, a documentary film entered the scene. This film was no ordinary documentary. “Linsanity: The Movie” documents the life and rise of Asian American, Ivy League NBA star Jeremy Lin. Well, you know the story! Often thought of as an underdog, Lin arises from being a former state champ and player of the year at Palo Alto High School to playing for Harvard and finally, in February 2012, to becoming the breakout star of the NBA playing for the New York Knicks in the midst of a disappointing season. Out of desperation, the New York Knicks looked to the end of their bench and found Jeremy Lin, an undrafted free agent from Harvard. On the verge of seeing his lifelong NBA dream vanish, Lin – at near what was believed to be his last chance as an NBA professional, underwent a now-legendary run, obliterating stereotypes along the way, and in the process birthed the global phenomenon known as “Linsanity.”

"Linsanity" Still | Director Evan Jackson Leong & Jeremy Lin | Photo by Michael Bow

“Linsanity” Still | Director Evan Jackson Leong & Jeremy Lin | Photo by Michael Bow

According to director Evan Jackson Leong, because Lin is many things, Asian American, Ivy League, and Christian, he is a minority in pro basketball circles. Lin was undrafted and was quickly cut from the Warriors and the Rockets. And he was pushed down to the second string of the NBA a number of times. But although he was facing these issues, he chose not to be discouraged, but instead made an effort to prove himself and play his best at all times. Lin decided that he was not going to play for anyone else, but was determined to play basketball the way he felt he should play it.

“Linsanity: The Movie” also brings to light the difficulties Lin faced being a racial minority in the NBA. He was often overlooked and not recognized as a substantial player. Lin was subject to discriminatory slurs and comments made by basketball fans, as well as fellow NBA players. Although Leong focuses on the obstacles that Lin faced, the film goes on to highlight the fact that Lin was able to push beyond racial stereotypes and boundaries in the midst of adversity.

Director Evan Jackson Leong, along with producers Chris Chen, Allen Yu and Brian Yang, began shooting and documenting Jeremy’s amazing journey 3-4 years ago at Harvard University. With the consent of Lin’s parents, past coaches and the NBA, Leong was determined to tell the story of a young basketball player that had gone further than any other Asian American basketball player had gone before. Lin’s traits, such as his strong Christian faith, humble demeanor and lighthearted sense of humor are evidenced throughout the film. One could not be anything but touched by seeing the sheer determination and heart that is shown through the childhood footage of him playing on the basketball court to his never-give-up attitude that is exhibited as he is shifted from team to team in his NBA career.

After Leong and fellow filmmakers took on the project years ago, they were unsure of how to conclude the story. However, as stated by Leong during the January 26th, 2013 Q&A following the Sundance Film Festival World Premiere, in February 2012 when the global phenomenon of “Linsanity” took the basketball world by storm, the filmmakers were given the perfect ending to their film. When “Linsanity” hit, it turned pro basketball upside down and the world was never the same.

To learn more about their filmmaking journey with Jeremy Lin, view the Q&As with director Evan Jackson Leong, producers Chris Chen, Allen Yu and Brian Yang from the World Premiere of “Linsanity: The Movie” at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

“Linsanity: The Movie” will be the Opening Night film at CAAMFest in San Francisco, CA on March 14, 2013. Please support “Linsanity: The Movie” on Facebook, Twitter and through the film’s Kickstarter Campaign.

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as writer, vlogger, designer, digital, online & social media marketer. She possesses a B.A from UC Davis and a M.A. in Mass Communications + Popular Culture Studies emphasis in Film/Marketing/Writing from Cal State Fullerton.

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