Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director:

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Murderball (2005)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.

Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Alpiger
Wordplay (2006)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An in-depth look at The New York Times' long-time crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fan base.

Director: Patrick Creadon
Stars: Will Shortz, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Looking for answers to life's big questions, a stuttering boy joins his high school debate team.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto
Lucky I (2010)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A documentary about the American lottery and some of the industry's biggest winners (and losers).

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Steve Ledoux
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams.

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Stars: Robb Reiner, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Tiziana Arrigoni
Jesus Camp (2006)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary on kids who attend a summer camp hoping to become the next Billy Graham.

Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Stars: Mike Papantonio, Lou Engle, Becky Fischer
Grizzly Man (2005)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog
Man on Wire (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Arenivar ...
Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ubaldo Arenivar ...
Himself - Angela's Father (as Ubaldo)
Jorge Arenivar ...
Himself - Angela's Brother (as Jorge)
Scott McGarraugh ...
Himself - Ranch Owner (as Mr. McGarraugh)
Lindy McGarraugh ...
Herself - Ranch Owner (as Mrs. McGarraugh)
Concepción Arenivar ...
Herself - Angela's Mother (as Concepción)
Mrs. Slaughter ...
Herself - Angela's Teacher
Neelima Marupudi ...
Herself - Potter County Champion (as Neelima)
Nupur Lala ...
Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Whitehurst ...
Herself - Nupur's Teacher
Parag Lala ...
Himself - Nupur's Father (as Parag)
Meena Lala ...
Herself - Nupur's Mother (as Meena)
Kuna Lala ...
Himself - Nupur's Brother (as Kuna)
Ted Brigham ...
Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Blair ...
Herself - Ted's Teacher
Edit

Storyline

This documentary follows 8 teens and pre-teens as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee championship in Washington D.C. All work quite hard and practice daily, first having to win their regional championship before they can move on. Interviews include the parents and teachers who are working with them. The competitors not only work hard to get to the finals but face tremendous pressure as the original group of over 250 competitors is whittled down and the words they must spell get ever more difficult. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Little kids. Big words. American dreams. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

27 June 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agonisma orthografias  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$17,508 (USA) (2 May 2003)

Gross:

$5,728,431 (USA) (5 December 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2007, it was added to "IDA's Top 25 Documentaries" of all-time by the International Documentary Association ranked #4. See more »

Goofs

While interviewing Harry in his room the boom mic is deliberately shown after Harry asks "Is that thing edible?" See more »

Quotes

Harry Altman: [pointing to the boom microphone] Is this thing edible?
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no cast list; a cast member is considered credited if a subtitle or an item in the film prints the name (or partial name). See more »

Connections

Featured in The 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Spell it any way you like...
29 August 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

...this film can be found listed under the definition of "winner." Absolutely wonderful work from first-time director/cinematographer Jeffrey Blitz, "Spellbound" is an engrossing documentary that introduces and follows eight regional Spelling Bee winners to the 1999 national championship in Washington, D.C. Of course, it's about far more than the rote spelling of arcane words; it's about setting goals and pursuing them, following your dreams and your heart's desires, and above all, the value of love and cooperation in achieving what you set out to do. Beautifully structured and paced, the story of these eight kids, all of them heartbreakingly appealing and buoyantly inspiring, will keep you on the edge of your seat as if you were involved in the lexicographical competition yourself. Perhaps I am biased, having had a child involved in a local spelling bee (she lost, and of course I just loved her all the more), but I rank this little sleeper right up there with "Hoop Dreams" and "Crumb" as one of my all-time favorite documentaries. If you don't fall in love with these kids (and their families) and share their agonies and ecstasies all the way through the triumph of the final winner, then I would have to say you have no heart and no soul. The DVD includes three other contestants whose arcs had to be cut from the film for time, but who are equally engaging, as well as a "where are they now?" addendum and a DVD-ROM Hangman's spelling game.

Simply put, not to be missed by anyone interested in the positive aspects of humanity.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Where are they now? krista-plaisted
Harry's parents creme_brulee
The black girl from DC hsehunt03
amazing mochabird
How Did They Know Who To Follow? Jeope!
Please donate to the Harry Altman Hyperactivity Foundation AlecEiffel
Discuss Spellbound (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page