Monopoly Doc Takes Top Honors at AIFF

By Art Kirsch

I attended 4 out of 5 days of the recent Anaheim International Film Festival (AIFF) and saw some 16 shorts, 3 features, and attended a workshop or two.  One of the two exceptional screenings I saw was a feature film by fellow MCAI member, Craig Bentley, a board member of the San Diego Chapter.

His documentary called Under The Boardwalk, The Monopoly Story took top honors in its category!

The AIFF inaugural festival at the Ultra-Star Cinemas in the Anaheim Garden Walk was very well done. Well organized and run by professionals, you could tell they really care about film and filmmakers. I predict this new addition will quickly rise to the top of the festival circuit in the US. Of course, it’s also a well-appreciated positive addition to the OC media scene. 

Under The Boardwalk was so good I saw it twice. Once with John Coleman, as voting audience members (where I gave it a 10+ on a scale of 1 to 10) and the second time, Sunday evening when I took my wife. She totally enjoyed it as well as I did the second time around.

In the 90 minute feature, Director-Producer Kevin Tostado (On the far left in photo to the right) and producer Craig Bentley (Far right in photo to the right)  capture the passion and competitiveness of over a dozen top US Players. They follow their ups and downs through regional then national competition and finally on to the international World Championship of Monopoly (covered on ESPN!) The producers did a great job bringing out heated rivalries, outsized ambitions, personal drama and plenty of board-game bravado among the personalities. Along the way they also tell the fascinating story of the game’s origins (now over 75 years old!); explore its cultural impact; dig up historical trivia; reveal winning strategies and give you a deep appreciation why Monopoly has been translated into over 50 languages!

Under The Boardwalk had the best Q&A sessions after each screening I’ve seen in a long time. Their discussion panel included the first national champion (1973), Lee Bayard; Monopoly Fanatic Participant Ken Koury (who employed six coaches!); other prominent players, and of course the dynamic director, Kevin Tostado who conceived the project. Questions and answers covered everything from filmmaking (Over 2 years in production!) to competitor rivalries to monopoly war-stories. You can get more info (and purchase a DVD) at the filmmakers website:  

(Photo L-R: John Coleman Craig Bentley, Art Kirsch)

If you’re so inspired, they have a national Monopoly competition about once every four years, so dust off your dice, houses and hotels.  There will be a competition in May in Fullerton so keep your eyes open. 

--Art Kirsch