A/V Room









Spellbound (U)

Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Where are they now? updates; Bonus footage of three other competitors in the Spelling Bee; Audio commentary by the filmmakers. Trailer; Spelling game from; Information from the National Literacy Association; Educational guide; Hangman game.

WITH all the must see movies out right now, find time to catch Spellbound. This is a real treat of a film. It is a documentary, directed by Jeff Blitz, about the National Spelling Bee competition in America.

Every year, about nine million American kids, aged between nine and 16, enter their regional spelling Bee competition. They are each asked to spell one word to which they may ask the country of origin and what context the word may be used.

If they spell it correctly, they go through to the next round; if they get it wrong they are eliminated.

When the numbers dwindle to 249, the surviving children travel to Washington for a weekend to attend the final. The competition is then televised across America.

We follow eight children who entered the Spelling Bee in 1999. We meet their families, learn of their backgrounds, and watch how they prepare and then cope with the high profile competition.

This is where the documentary deserves the 15 awards it has already received, as well as last year's Oscar nomination (the Oscar went to Bowling for Columbine).

The eight kids are exceptional. All from completely different areas and backgrounds, creating some fascinating contrasts. Most are first generation families hoping to attain the American dream.

There are two things the spellers have in common, spelling and feeling alienated from their peers because of their intellect.

Spellbound is wonderfully edited, with past winners of the Spelling Bee discussing their experience of entering the competition.

We also hear from the teachers as well as the judges, although the funniest moments involve the over-zealous parents.

There is no way you can sit through this film without rooting for one of the kids, as well as trying to spell the words they are given.

It is courageous and heart-breaking but, above all, hilarious. Go and see it.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z