Ping Pong


Hugh Hartford


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Producer Hugh Hartford
Completed 2011 Runtime 76



Call this old age, extreme edition: Eight players with 703 years between them compete in the Over 80 World Table Tennis Championships in China's Inner Mongolia. British players Terry, 81, who has been given a week to live, and Les, 91, a weightlifter and poet, are going for the gold. Inge, 89, from Germany, has used table tennis to paddle her way out of dementia. And Texan Lisa, 85, is playing for the first time. Ping Pong is a wonderfully unusual story of hope, regret, friendship, ambition, love — and sheer human tenacity in the face of aging and mortality.

Long Synopsis

Les D'Arcy (UK) is 89, he's a 14 times cancer sufferer and 12 times world table tennis champion. Rune Forsberg (Sweden) is 85, he's the new favourite to win gold in the men's over 85s. Having played each other for the last 35 years - the two world champs are arch rivals.

A performance of a lifetime is all that will separate them from Gold. Through intimate and candid portraits of our 9 players lives, Ping Pong explores what life's like at 80. Les is driven to win but finds home life very lonely; Austrian born Texan, Lisa (85), refuses to accept she is any older than 28; Inge (89) from Germany plays to get away from the nursing home she lives in. Sun Lao (84) from China thinks the beer and cigarettes help his game.

With 9 expert octogenarians as our guides Ping Pong will be a life affirming adventure into another generation; examining the hope, passion, prejudice, and immediacy of growing old.

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What people
have said

These dynamic table-tennis stars put the rest of us to shame.

The Guardian

With lively, skilfully intimate camerawork and sparky editing, the film captures the players' personalities and the energy of the matches.

Shadows on the Wall
Watch the
trailer here