‘The Hobby,’ Documentary About Board Game Players, Debuts Clip Ahead of SXSW Premiere, Vortex Media Handles Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety has been given exclusive access to a first-look clip (below) from Simon Ennis’ documentary “The Hobby,” which world premieres at SXSW on Friday. International sales are being handled by Vortex Media.

“The Hobby” is an affectionate, character-driven portrait of the subculture of board games, covering the World Series of Board Games in Las Vegas and reaching back to Ancient Mesopotamia.

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The characters portrayed – who include the “Roger Ebert of board games,” a rock-climbing board-game philosopher and a birdwatcher who created an unlikely smash hit – share personal stories of competition, compulsion, creativity and connection.

Ennis says: “One of the most fun and exciting events we visited was the first ever World Series of Board Games held in Las Vegas in 2022. In this clip, one of our main subjects, Dan Corbett is up all night in his hotel room getting ready for his final shot at winning in the [contest]. We then jump forward in time to the next morning and intercut between Dan and some of the various competitors in the lead up to the finals for the game ‘Blood Rage.'”

He adds: “I think this clip captures both the drama and the fun that was in the air at the event. The WSBG was unique because, most of the time, we board gamers are just hanging out with friends playing, or maybe going to local meetups. With 25 grand on the line and the location being a Vegas casino, it was a pretty charged atmosphere.”

Speaking about the inspiration for making the film, he says: “I’ve always loved exploring subcultures. I love the specificity of language and action. I love the creativity. I love when groups form around a shared obsession and people create their own world. In this case it was more personal and meaningful because this was an obsession I had myself.”

The executive producer is Meyer Shwarzstein, and the producers are Kim C. Roberts, Tina Pehme and Justin Rebelo. The DP is Jesse McCracken.

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