GameFest Highlight: King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Alli Jessing, Joint Programs Coordinator for the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, gives us a peek at our upcoming screening of Seth Gordon’s documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters showing this Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m. in American Art’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium as part of our GameFest activities.

King of Kong Poster

Theatrical poster for The King of Kong, © 2007, Picturehouse

Rivalry, espionage, and intrigue: it’s not just a Sherlock Holmes novel or a James Bond film. It’s the world of Donkey Kong, where the high score is a bragging right sought by many and achieved by few. For a hot sauce mogul and a science teacher, the quest to set the Guinness Book World Record for the Donkey Kong high score has grown beyond a casual hobby and becomes a life-altering pursuit.

Seth Gordon’s documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters chronicles the dramatic and fascinating intertwining tales of Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, two hardcore gamers seeking to unlock this accomplishment. The competition is fierce and controversial, and the personalities of those involved are both larger than life and eminently relatable. Since its release in 2007, the film has become a cult favorite for gamers and non-gamers alike.

Following the screening, The Art of Video Games exhibition curator Chris Melissinos will moderate a discussion with documentary stars Walter Day, founder of Twin Galaxies; competitive gamers and record holders Brian Kuh and Billy Mitchell; and Steve Sanders, author of The Video Master’s Guide to Donkey Kong.

This screening is one of the many programs scheduled during our GameFest weekend, which celebrates the opening of our new exhibition The Art of Video Games. Take a look at the complete schedule of events.

Check out the King of Kong trailer now and we’ll see you at GameFest for the feature length screening!

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