2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE GAME CHANGERS

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by The Game Changers

Louie Psihoyos explores the misconceptions and truths about plant-based diets.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

When UFC star James Wilks is injured, his desire to heal leads him on a deep dive into how plant-based diets can improve physical performance. Academy Award winner Louie Psihoyos (THE COVE) interviews experts and athletes like US Olympian Kendrick James Farris and surfer Tia Blanco, demolishing myths against plant-based diets along the way. THE GAME CHANGERS explores innovative research on male athletes and – you wouldn’t have guessed it – their nocturnal erections, upending years of targeted marketing, corporatism, and antiquated notions of masculinity, all of which have manufactured society’s addiction to meat.

In this documentary, plant-based diets are also shown to have a significant impact on our environment – the film subtly evolves from a narrative around nutrition into a discussion around climate change, arguing that the decision to reduce meat consumption is perhaps the most profound choice an individual can make to reduce their impact on the earth. Timely and decisive, THE GAME CHANGERS captures a defining cultural moment in our relationship to food, offering at its heart a message of positivity and personal agency.

Some Background:

  • Louie Psihoyos
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE COVE (2009, US Documentary Audience Award)

    This marks the third of three feature documentaries that Psihoyos has brought to Sundance, having turned to documentary filmmaking after a long-established and celebrated career as a photographer for National Geographic that began in 1980. He is the founder and CEO of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), a Colorado-based nonprofit focused on marine conservation andenvironmental sustainability.



  • Joseph Pace

    Pace is a Canadian animal rights activist, vegan, and, together with James Wilks, the originator of the idea for this project. This marks his first producing credit.


  • James Wilks

    Wilks is a welterweight champion mixed martial artist, best known as winner of Spike TV’s THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER championship. This is also his first credit as a producer.


  • Shannon Kornelsen

    Kornelsen is a Toronto-based animal advocate, vegan, and partner to Pace. This is her first producing credit.

  • Gina Papabeis
    Past Sundance docs:

    RACING EXTINCTION (co-producer)

    Papabeis is part of Psihoyos’ OPS team.

Executive Producers:

  • James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron

    The three-time Oscar winner and his wife, a former actress who appeared in Sundance fiction alums THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995), NADJA (1995), and TWO SMALL BODIES (1994), are ardent vegans and have supported initiatives to promote plant-based diets, such as California’s MUSE School, which they founded in 2006. James Cameron has previously made a number of ocean-focused docs, and executive produced the Emmy-winning climate change series YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY for Showtime. This is the first Sundance project they’ve executive produced.

  • Maria Wilhelm

    Wilhelm is the executive director of the Avatar Alliance Foundation and president/COO of Cameron Companies. In this role, she has produced environmentally-themed series and films, but this marks the first at Sundance.

  • Kyle Vogt and Tracy Vogt

    Kyle Vogt is a billionaire tech entrepreneur who founded livestreaming video platform Twitch and self-driving-car startup Cruise, while his wife Tracy is the founder of farm animal sanctuary Charlie’s Acres and fitness retreat company Sculpt Escapes. This is the first Sundance project that the vegan couple have supported.

  • Bob Greenberg and Sheryl Greenberg

    This marks the first Sundance credit for the couple.

  • Pamela Anderson

    Anderson gained fame for her role in BAYWATCH and is a longtime animal advocate and outspoken vegan. This is her first Sundance project.

  • Solina Chau
    Past Sundance docs:

    RACING EXTINCTION (co-executive producer)

    Chau is the director of Hong Kong’s La Ka Shing Foundation and founder of venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, which has supported companies taking innovative approaches to the environment and food.

  • Rip Esselstyn

    Esselstyn is a health activist and author advocating whole food, plant-based diets. The former firefighter and triathlete developed the Engine 2 Diet to promote healthy eating by his fellow firefighters and went on to found Engine 2 to further his message.

  • Niklas Adalberth

    Adalberth is a co-founder of Swedish online payments company and founder of the Stockholm-based Norrsken Foundation, which focuses on social tech entrepreneurship.

  • Cindy Landon

    Landon is a businesswoman and philanthropist involved with animal advocacy and vegan organizations. She is the widow of actor Michael Landon, and has previously produced documentaries on animal and environmental issues.

  • Brendan Brazier

    Brazier, a former Ironman triathlete and ultramarathon champion, is a performance nutrition consultant, author, and creator of plant-based food and supplements via his company, Vega.


  • Dan Swietlik
    Past Sundance docs:

    HAPPY VALLEY (2014)
    FED UP

    Swietlik also cut Michael Moore’s Oscar-nominated health care exposé SICKO.

  • Stephanie Mechura

    This is first Sundance project that Mechura has cut.

Why You Should Watch:
Wilks serves as a guide to better understanding human nutritional needs, unraveling longstanding myths that have been spread about our supposed need for meat. Psihoyos’ film makes a compelling argument for viewers to rethink their dietary choices.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.


Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.