DVD - 2004
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Follows the lives of eight young Americans who share one goal: to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The Bee is as intense a competition as any Olympic match, for both the spellers and their families. The unbearable pressure becomes even more extraordinary when it is felt by ordinary teenagers.
Publisher: Culver City, Calif. : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2004]
Copyright Date: ©2002
ISBN: 9781404947603
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (97 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
4 3/4 in


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Jul 02, 2016

A compelling title for the film because of the engaging qualities of its subjects. Sometimes, it's a lonely, isolating place to be better than just good at something. These kids are exceptional at spelling and many excel in other activities and possess insightful, well-developed perspectives. Imagine what that must be like, how you would relate to other people (or not) because of fundamental barriers like comprehension? As the story unfolds, you learn more about them and root for all of them to do their best. For me, I especially gravitated toward the quiet kids and those from a modest background, and I hope college recruiters, education administrators and guidance counselors, and the USDA, etc. are as captivated as I am.

There's Ashley White who comes from low-income housing and a family where her mother uses words like 'publicitizing.' Juxtaposing all of the exposure she receives, everyday, from her environment, it's astonishing how she turns out and the position she finds herself in. Her mild-mannered teacher aptly describes Ashley as 'a little angel.' A product of the sudden-death format, Ashley finally succumbs to the moment in mid-conversation as she buries her face within her hands and then leans sideways behind an adult and away from the cameras, and the pressures of this competition is victorious in making an angel cry. If you have never seen an angel cry, this will break you.

There's the articulate Ted Brigham and soft-spoken Neil Kadakia and the indelible, intelligent, and generous parents of April DeGideo, a less than sanguine prodigy. April's mother observes of her daughter, "Only one time she said, 'Mom, I'd really want to win this thing.' And I really liked hearing that." And there's the free-spirited Angela Arenivar, whose parents crossed the border from Mexico and neither of whom speak a word of English after 20 years, now living in Perryton, TX, raising livestock. In a fertile, agrarian open field, Jorge (Angela's brother) eloquently explains, on behalf of his parents, the magnitude of Angela's accomplishments (who went 40 rounds with her final competitor at the regional level just to secure a spot at the National in Washington DC): 'He [Ubaldo, their father] didn't come here to work...well, it's part of it. But the end of the story is for him to go to Washington and see her compete at the National' Spelling Bee. If you believe this film is about competing at the National Spelling Bee, you're absolutely right.

Aug 21, 2015

Great family movie for kids of any age & adults, our whole family thoroughly enjoyed it. We really rooted for the kids, & the doc showcased the different personalities of them, AND their parents. Charming, whimsical, super interesting & entertaining.

Apr 06, 2013

Glee, without music.

Mar 11, 2011

Got a good request from Britannia teacher for this one today. A fun documentary choice for the Secondary classroom.


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Red_Cobra_38 Jan 30, 2012

Red_Cobra_38 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Jul 02, 2016

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