Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oscar buzz big for critically-acclaimed doc

[Received this press release today regarding the New Hampshire premiere of the documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.]

Oscar Buzz Big For Critically Acclaimed Documentary Filmed At Funspot

New Hampshire Premiere of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters this weekend in Meredith.

WEIRS BEACH-"One of the most fascinating films of the year. It deserves an Oscar nomination." The latest Steven Spielberg movie? No.

That’s a review on a recent Ebert & Roeper program talking about The King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary filmed on location at the largest arcade in the world - Funspot Family Entertainment Center on Rte 3 in Weirs Beach, NH . It makes its New Hampshire premiere this Friday, September 14th at Spinelli Cinemas in Meredith.

Not since On Golden Pond has a movie filmed in New Hampshire even been whispered about in the same breath with the words "Academy Award." With The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters the whispering has been turning into a roar as many notable critics have said it should definitely be a Best Documentary nominee come next year’s Oscars.

The documentary about a middle school science teacher and a hot sauce mogul who vie for the Guinness World Record on the arcade classic, Donkey Kong, is already in nationwide distribution and has been playing in thirty cities from Los Angeles to Boston and New York. It was a favorite at the famed Slamdance and Tribeca Film Festivals.

Filming for the documentary took place in June of 2005 during the 7th annual Classic Videogame and Pinball Tournament held in the American Classic Arcade Museum on Funspot’s third level. Every year gamers from around the globe come to the tournament to try and break video game and pinball records on some of the 249 fully operational classic games in the museum.

In the documentary, "Video Game Player of The Century", Billy Mitchell (who played the first perfect Pac-Man game ever at Funspot) scored 874,300 points on Donkey Kong (not at Funspot), a record many thought would never be broken. In 2003, middle school teacher Steve Wiebe set out to break it, and he did with a score of 1,000,000 points. The score was questioned by Mitchell as it was done on Wiebe’s home machine. The two square-off in a cross-country duel that comes to Funspot and Wiebe’s attempt at breaking the record in a sanctioned format.

One of the country’s top independent filmmakers and critics, Kevin Smith says "You won’t see a more gripping or compelling flick in a theater this year."

Gary Vincent, curator and director of the American Classic Arcade Museum, who started the tournament in 1999, didn’t think much about the filming during the ‘05 tournament. "People were always coming in saying they were filming a documentary of some sort. I had no idea it would be this big a deal."

It was a big deal for film’s director Seth Gordon who became interested in the story after he had heard about it from a friend of the film’s producer, Ed Cunningham. In an online interview Gordon said: "I didn’t know anybody involved in this (gaming) world but I did know Funspot, which is my favorite place on earth. I’m from Chicago but my family reunions were in New Hampshire so I would go to this arcade….it was this mystical place…I’d just think all year about it…I saw that Wiebe might go to this holy land and, as far as I was concerned, that’s when I signed on."

The King of Kong-A Fistful of Quarters will be making its New Hampshire premiere this Friday at Spinelli Cinemas in Meredith and will be there for at least a week. For more information on show times call Spinelli at 279-7836. For more about the movie go to www.billyvssteve.com. For more about visit Funspot at www.funspotnh.com and the American Classic Arcade Musuem at www.classicarcademuseum.org.