The inaugural ESI Film Festival crowns gaming and esports’ cinematic champions

Last night saw the inaugural edition of the ESI Film Festival, unfold in the heart of London at the iconic British hub of film, BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, with the curtains drawn back to reveal the winners in a night that celebrated the champions of cinema across gaming and esports.

Held by Esports Insider (ESI), a leading global B2B esports and media company, alongside its non-profit partner ESG Gaming, ESI Film Festival received over 40 entries, with submissions ranging from global fashion brands, alongside esports organisations through to a group of passionate students.

For this year, the festival’s themes revolved around digital inequality, diversity, and mental health, shining a light on the potential for gaming and esports to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

The ceremony began with the announcement of the community vote winner, which was awarded to ‘Exploring esports for recovery‘, a short documentary examining how esports and gaming can support the health and wellbeing of service personnel and veterans.

The top three submissions were then announced and shown to the audience. In 3rd place was ‘Game Flow‘, a documentary discovering how three people with mood and anxiety disorders use gaming as a powerful tool for self-care.

In 2nd place was ‘AFK: Changing the Narrative‘, which delves into the life of a former pro gamer, now turned esports host, Jacob ‘Pimp’ Winneche, through his past struggles with physical and mental health. 

The winner of ESI Film Festival was then announced, with the crown being awarded to ‘Emzii: It’s for Everyone‘. This 14 minute documentary follows the life of a pro gamer Emma ‘Emzii’ Rose, who recently competed at the Commonwealth Games, showing her experience of being a transgender woman in the gaming and esports space, and some of the challenges that she has had to face due to this.

The top 3 submissions shared a prize pool of £10,000, with 1st place receiving £5,000, 2nd place receiving £3,000, and 3rd place receiving £2,000. Alongside this, all 3 winners received invites to attend BAFTA’s Games Sessions Open Day in April, which will celebrate the nominees of their annual Games Awards. CenterFrame, partners of the ESI Film Festival, will also be providing the winners an annual member to connect with other filmmakers, producers, directors and screenwriters and help develop their future projects.

All submissions were considered by a panel of judges and advisory board featuring some of the most highly regarded professionals across gaming, esports, and film from the likes of the British Film Institute, Ubisoft Film & Television, and Manchester Film Festival.

You can find further information on ESI Film Festival