Burnaby filmmaker's esports doc set for global premiere

Burnaby resident Melissa Dex Guzman is going global.

The filmmaker is getting a global premiere of her documentary Smash Forward: Growing the Vancouver Esports Scene – an exploration of the world of esports and the personalities behind it. 

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This short documentary will be available on Telus Optik TV On Demand, and on the TELUS Storyhive YouTube channel on Monday, July 15, at noon. The project received $50,000 in funding from the Telus Storyhive program.

Directed and produced by Guzman, Smash Forward features interviews with homegrown esports personalities Brendan ‘Pryde’ Pryde, Martin ‘Zerango’ Byerley, Jen ‘Llumiya’ Zall, and Courtney ‘CourtFTW’ Gilbert, alongside Super Smash Bros. professionals Eric ‘ESAM’ Lew, Vish ‘Vish’ Rajkumar, and Julian ‘Jtails’ Martinez.

Determined to break the stereotype of isolation and mental health issues in gaming, Guzman and viral YouTuber Kial Natale (youtube.com/Megasteakman) sought out a variety of interview subjects to illustrate the passions, energy, and emotions that fuel this growing grassroots community. 

Their year-long deep dive uncovered many inspiring stories of overcoming adversity, embracing diversity, nurturing friendships, and finding strength while also having fun.

“It’s a unique documentary that hasn’t been done before”, said Guzman. “It’s a light that not many gamers have seen themselves in and cuts straight to the emotions and passions of these young individuals. Our team is also proud to have addressed the inclusion and diversity issues in esports today. Things are rapidly changing and our hope is that ‘Smash Forward’ can help guide those conversations in growing the esports industry in a positive direction.”

To celebrate the film’s release, a free premiere event will take place Monday at the Gaming Stadium in Richmond. The event will include free-to-play PC gaming stations, a cast and crew Q&A, and a raffle with amazing prizes – including a Nintendo Switch.

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