Review: Game Girls

Review: Game Girls

By Jasmine Lowe

Game Girls is the second documentary by Polish director, Alina Skrzeszewska. The story starts out by chronicling the lives of a Black lesbian couple living in Downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood. We are introduced to Teri Rogers, who is seen managing her mental illness by attending a women’s group, and Tiahna Vince, who has just been released from jail for selling drugs. What starts off as a documentary about life on Skid Row turns into a story about the power of love and the importance of overcoming obstacles on your own to reach your goals.

“I was living downtown attending workshops, and I saw a flyer in one of the hotels I was staying in, and it was a flyer for the workshop, Game Girls,” said Rogers. “I attended the workshop where we did drama therapy. The workshop was trying to talk about and overcome some of the past trauma.

I didn’t know what the film was initially supposed to be about. She just wanted to capture the lives of women who were homeless or needing assistant there,” Rogers said about the director, Skrzeszewska. “Within the four years of us filming, it became a love story about me and my girlfriend.”

Game Girls offers more than just a series of footage of two people on Skid Row.

The camera follows Rogers and Vince as they journey through their relationship while attempting to rebuild their lives. The documentary dives deep to offer a very real look into life in the downtown neighborhood and even deeper into the personal lives of our main protagonists as their differing opinions about life put a strain on their relationship.

“We were both from separate walks of life, and we met each other downtown,” Rogers said about her relationship with Tiahna Vince. “They saw that I was driven to make a difference. I wanted to make a change, and I had a different outlook on life. I wanted different things in life, and it was a big struggle because we didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. She constantly wanted to stay down there and sell drugs. The director, Alina, wanted to do a story on a relationship, like a mother and a daughter, but she saw our relationship and realized that there was so much that was needed to be told and she followed us around and that’s how the story came about.”

Rogers has since rebuilt her life so that she could continue to be an advocate not just for herself but for other individuals who are in situations that were similar to hers at the beginning of the film. She wants to let those people know that there are resources there to help those who are willing to work to better their own situation.

“I wanted to advocate for the homeless and people who suffer from substance abuse and mental illness,” said Rogers. “My goal is to become a drug and alcohol counselor and enrich the lives of others because I’m very resourceful. I want to show people that there is a way out here, there is help out here, and I want to help people to deal with their matters in another way instead of self-sabotaging.

Aside from individual issues, there are so many other factors and relationships that put a strain on an individual. Downtown is a melting pot of so many different types of people and everybody has their own story, but there’s still help out there.”

Game Girls offers more than just a series of footage of two people on Skid Row. Alina Skrzeszewska came up with the original concept for the film with the help of the film’s story advisor, William Shepherd. However, the story developed into something greater than they imagined. It’s a smart film that evolved into an inspirational message of encouragement that prompts its audience to be their own advocate and to make changes and moves in their own lives when they can.

The film, Game Girls, which was released in February of this year, was nominated for a C.I.C.A.E. Award, the Glasshütte Original Documentary Award, the Teddy for Best Documentary Film, and the Amnesty International Award. There is also some discussion in the works for a sequel to this important film that would answer some cliffhangers left at the film’s conclusion.

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