On the face of it, the documentary short The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends doesn’t sound like such serious business: A group of friends get together to play Settlers of Catan, and occasionally get on each other’s nerves. Really, it’s difficult to think of anything more frivolous. But as anyone who’s ever gotten competitive against a loved one can attest, these things have a way of just blowing way the hell out of proportion.

Directed by Jay Cheel (Beauty Day, How to Build a Time Machine), The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends is a half-dramatic, half-comedic look at the high-stakes emotions that can spill out during a low-stakes game. Fans of Cheel’s work on the Film Junk podcast will additionally be amused to see that the short prominently features recurring Film Junk guest Reed Farrington, a.k.a. Gerry Eng. Watch the ten-minute video after the jump.


[via Film School Rejects]

I admit I’ve never actually played Settlers of Catan, but I don’t think you have to be familiar with it to get the intensity that comes out whenever any competition starts heating up. Honestly, it’s one reason I tend to stay away from board games in general.

In the wrong hands, The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends would just be an incredibly banal party anecdote about the one time that one guy got really mad about something kind of silly. But Cheel takes a fresh and funny approach to the tale, treating the incident with a deadpan seriousness — slow-mo and all — that ironically makes the whole thing all the more amusing. Lovely cinematography from Cheel (done on the the Panasonic AF100, in case you’re wondering) and a catchy soundtrack (mostly by original “Mahna Mahna” writer Piero Umiliani) add to the enjoyment as well.

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