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USA, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Documentaries)

Director: Jeff Blitz

"Jeff Blitz's riveting documentary follows eight young competitors of all backgrounds as they compete in the National Spelling Bee. During this high-pressure Super Bowl of the vocabulary, Blitz effectively inter-cuts biographical information on the eight entrants with interviews from past champions and key moments from the competition. Blitz focusses on the faces, the anguish, tension, relief and celebrations clear in their expressions as the spellers proceed. We actually get to know the survivors well enough to develop an empathy for them."—New York Times

"Spellbound draws an unspoken parallel with, of all things, beauty pageants, complete with unnaturally driven kids and nervously supportive parents desperately trying not to appear too pushy. Nine million American school kids enter the National Spelling Bee; 249 regional finalists are chosen; a cut-throat competition narrows the field to the two vocabulary combatants who will compete for the grand prize. Spellbound was an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary and is one of the most entrancing documentaries of the year."—Film Threat

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