Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 2)

Steve Wiebe is the underdog protagonist of the cult documentary The King of Kong (2007), which chronicles his quest to capture the Donkey Kong world record from his eccentric and scheming rival, Billy Mitchell. In part one of our interview, Andrew Myers asked Wiebe to reflect on his participation in the film. Now, in the second half of the interview, Wiebe recalls how his life was affected in the aftermath of the film and talks about what makes classic arcade gaming so compelling. This interview was conducted by phone in January 2012.


“The Kong Off by 3henchmen (via YouTube)


Andrew Myers: In the years since the film came out, how has your life been affected from your participation in the film? I assume a lot of people that you know have seen the film. Do you feel that the people in your social relationships see you any differently after being in this movie? Or what other consequences has it had on your life?

Steve Wiebe: I think my friends still see me for who I am. They kind of joke around and call me “Hey King” and stuff. So it’s kind of funny. I’ll get recognized in public here and there. There’s definitely people who have been influenced or touched by the film that have reached out and emailed, and sent letters and things. I’ve been able to go to events, people will call me or email me and ask me to appear at an event that they have. So I definitely see that it has impacted a lot of people. I have great times meeting different people and experiencing that. Continue reading “Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 2)” »

Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 1)

Steve Wiebe is the underdog protagonist of the cult documentary The King of Kong (2007), which chronicles his quest to capture the Donkey Kong world record from his eccentric and scheming rival, Billy Mitchell. Andrew Myers recently had the chance to conduct this phone interview with Wiebe about his participation in the film.

[jwplayer mediaid=”186″]

Andrew Myers: How did you get involved in the film? From what you were told when you agreed to be filmed on this journey, what were your expectations about how you would be portrayed and how the film would affect your life?

Steve Wiebe: My friend who appears in the film, Mike Thompson, is a screenwriter and he’s pretty savvy on what is material for movies or stories. We’d have barbecues and get-togethers and I would tell him all the current happenings in the Donkey Kong world. When I explained that the guys came to my house to check out my machine [an early plot point of the film], he couldn’t believe that it had reached that extreme. So he thought this has got to be a story that can be told. And he knew some documentary people that were doing a documentary on the New York Dolls and they were finishing it up—they were in post-production, doing all the editing and basically looking for new material—so he left. His name was Ed Cunningham, and he went to the University of Washington. I didn’t know him personally but I went to the University of Washington too. So he told Ed about my story and Ed was intrigued. Then they started rolling a few months after that. Continue reading “Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 1)” »

“A Curious and True and Dramatic Film”: John Steinbeck’s ‘The Forgotten Village’

The Forgotten Village (1941)

During UCLA’s 2011 Festival of Preservation, Jeffrey Bickel presented a beautifully restored print of a little-known John Steinbeck film: The Forgotten Village (1941). I was deeply touched by the film’s poignant depiction of poverty and generational conflict, as well as the naturalistic, almost raw quality of the cinematography and performances, anticipating post-WWII Italian Neorealism films such as De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette (1948). Unable to shake the power of the film’s message, I became inspired to research the genesis of the film, its role in Steinbeck’s career, and its place in American history. I never could have imagined the wide variety of commercial motivations and political agendas that shaped every frame of the film. —Jessica Fowler

The Forgotten Village is an ethnographic documentary centered on a small, poverty-stricken community in rural Mexico. The film showcases the struggle of one young man, Juan Diego, as he tries to persuade the elders of his village to embrace modern medical technology and put an end to the dangerous healing ceremonies of the past. Despite being classified as a documentary, The Forgotten Village is in fact a highly fictionalized piece of propaganda that was intended to strengthen the bond between the United States and Central and South America against the growing Nazi threat in the early 1940s. Written by John Steinbeck, the film began production amid increasing anxiety regarding the conflict overseas and the potential impact on the Western Hemisphere. Continue reading ““A Curious and True and Dramatic Film”: John Steinbeck’s ‘The Forgotten Village’” »