Spellbound (2002)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBBB

USA, 2002.  Blitz/Welch.  Cinematography by Jeffrey Blitz.   Produced by Jeffrey Blitz, .  Music by .   Production Design by , .  Film Editing by Yana Gorskaya.  

Nine million Americans under the age of thirteen compete in the National Spelling Bee every year, and their road to the big finish is the subject of this fascinating documentary. After winners have been determined from regional championships, only 249 contestants make it to the final rounds, a televised event in Washington, each of them competing until there is only one player left. This absolutely fantastic film examines eight finalists, looking at their lives at home, their families and their methods of studying for a competition that is incredibly important to them. The kids themselves are delightful, all of them interesting and level-headed youngsters who inspire more devotion from viewers than contenders on reality TV shows, while their parents are sometimes even more interesting to watch than their children are. Hilarious and heartbreaking, it features more suspense than any thriller Hollywood has come up with in years, and more laughs than some of its best comedies.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Documentary Feature

Toronto International Film Festival:  2002


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