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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

See also...


France/Belgium, 2002
Chantal Akerman's haunting new documentary focuses on the plight of Mexican workers and their attempts to cross the US border and forge a better life 'on the other side'. ... Akerman sets the story i… More »

BUS 174

Brazil, 2002
On June 12, 2000—Brazil's Valentine's Day—Sandro do Nascimento held up a bus in Rio de Janeiro's largest public park in broad daylight, taking the passengers hostage.Television crews arri… More »


USA, 2002
"Capturing The Friedmans ran away with this year's Sundance Grand Jury prize for best documentary and deservedly so. An engrossing, troubling and, in the end, profoundly ambiguous re-examination of a… More »


France, 2002
Even if you haven't seen The Gleaners and I, no matter, as this new film begins with a brief overview of the original. Filmed between October 2001 and June 2002, this wonderful new film from Agnes Va… More »


USA, 2002
Steve James (director of the international hit basketball doc, Hoop Dreams) first met Stevie Fielding in 1982. James joined the 'Big Brother' programme to mentor a hyperactive and difficult 11-year-o… More »

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