When Tim Vandenberg went to the Monopoly National Championships in 2009, members of the Carmel Elementary School community were unable to see him in action.


Until now. Vandenberg's journey from using Monopoly to help teach math at Carmel to the tournament in Washington, DC, was documented as part of "Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story," a documentary that will be shown at the UltraStar Cinema in Apple Valley on May 16.


"Tim is definitely one of the stars of the film," said director Kevin Tostado. "He had started using Monopoly in the classroom by then and had his students compete [at a tournament] in Redlands."


"The district benchmarks were very good," said Vandenberg. "And it wasn't all Monopoly, but it was part of a balanced diet."


Vandenberg's success in using the game to teach statistics -- and, as a result, knowing the expected values of each piece of real estate and the odds of different events in the game happening -- had led to his students beating national and world champions. And, having learned so much about the game, he decided to take his own run at the championship.


"We kind of filmed Tim going through that process, all the way through to the national championship," said Tostado. "Tim, to me, is kind of the main hero of the film. He's kind of an underdog; he doesn't have the years of experience ... and he's using Monopoly in the classroom in kind of an unconventional way."


Although the film discusses the history of the game, it mostly focuses on the 2009 Monopoly World Championship in Las Vegas, stopping at the national championship in Washington, DC, in April.


"We show bankers, teachers, lawyers, students, people who come from all over the world to DC," said Tostado. "We see how Monopoly fits into their lives."


For Vandenberg, Monopoly has become part of his everyday life, whether it's teaching another class of math students, or playing a game after school with fellow teachers.


"Tim's kind of created monsters now," Carmel principal Chris Mauger said, hunched over a deluxe Monopoly board with several other faculty members.


"It's kind of like high-stakes poker," said Vandenberg. "You're trying to get an edge anyway you can. My edge is the numbers."


The film was finished in Sept. 2010, and it premiered at the Anaheim International Film Festival in October, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Since then, it's been on the film festival circuit. And this month, it finally comes home to Apple Valley, where Vandenberg's students, friends and family can all see it.


"My wife saw it and was very concerned that I come off as the bad guy," Vandenberg said.


"You don't," said Mauger.


"Pretty much every audience that sees the film kind of cheers for Tim," said Tostado.


"Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story" will be shown on Monday, May 16, at the UltraStar Cinema at 22311 Bear Valley Road in Apple Valley. The movie will be shown at 10:30 a.m., 12:40 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:10 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


All attendees will receive a special director's chair Monopoly token made especially for the film screenings. Tostado and the film's producers will participate in question and answer sessions after each screening and Vandenberg will participate in the 5:10 and 7:30 question and answer sessions.


For more information about the movie visit MonopolyDocumentary.com. DVDs of the movie are available from MonopolyDVD.com and the film is expected to come to iTunes and Netflix later this year.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.