Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Living The Game’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - April 24, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Living The Game’

If you ask some people (my husband included) video games are serious business but perhaps no one takes video games more seriously than the men and women who play them professionally.  Living the Game, a new documentary from director Takao Gotsu, follows a few of those players as they battle it out for world dominance at the game of Street Fighter.

The film focuses most closely on two players: Daigo Umehara, who achieved legendary status by coming back from near defeat in dramatic style to win the prestigious EVO championship in 2004, and Momochi, who is desperate to win a championship of his own and finally escape Daigo’s shadow.  It follows the two, as well as a handful of other gamers, as they meet at tournaments around the world and battle for prize money, sponsorships and, perhaps most importantly, glory.

While the idea of video game tournaments seems strange at first, the film does a great job of portraying the drama and excitement of the competitions.  Video footage of Daigo’s EVO victory is, as promised, incredible to watch, even for the gamer naïve and one tournament finale twist shown in the film is as thrilling and suspenseful as any epic moment from the world of sports.

The film was incredibly successful in capturing my attention and I was completely engrossed in the fortunes of the contestants, so much so that I found myself researching results from the most recent competitions.  It also does a wonderful job of illuminating the reasons that people are drawn to gaming in the first place, which include the common themes of belonging, purpose and acceptance.  Living the Game is surprisingly poignant and utterly engaging and while I may not be traveling to a tournament anytime soon it made a gamer fan out of me.

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Galadriel fell in love with the movies when she was taken to see Superman at the age of three. Legend has it she watched the whole thing standing up with her jaw on the floor. She went on to see Superman four more times in the theatre and developed a lifelong passion for film. Galadriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto which she parlayed into a ten year stint at Blockbuster Video and more recently a career in nursing. But some things never change – she still loves movies and counts Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, The Shawshank Redemption, La Dolce Vita and the films of Michelangelo Antonioni among her favourites. She is also obsessed with the Oscars and knows more about them than any one person should. Galadriel currently lives in Toronto with her husband and young daughter who is soon to see her very first movie in the theatre.