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
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 | 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
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
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Fred A. Leuchter Jr., Robert Jan Van Pelt, David Irving
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:

EVERYONE WANTS THE LAST WORD 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

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature; Yana Gorskaya's editing won the ACE Eddie award for best editing of documentary. 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: Does this sound like a musical robot?
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

References The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
a great film
31 May 2004 | by See all my reviews

"Spellbound" is one of those documentaries that isn't soaked with politics or social dilemmas, but it is touches on them indirectly. It's the story of 8 kids from all over the United States, their study habits, lives, relationships with parents and personal beliefs, views and opinions. And how they make it to the National Spelling Bee Contest.

These stories are all incredibly touching - my favorite is about one of the girls' grandfathers who illegally crossed the border into the U.S., got held at a detention center, then, finally accepted into the US, worked really hard and finally now, in his old age is able to say that he is happy. That he saw his kids get great education and good opportunities; essentially that all his hard work didn't go to waste.

The film is also tense - it communicates the tension inherent in any contest quite effectively here. By acquainting the viewer with the children before the contest an empathy is established and you find yourself rooting for them. You may not even realize it until, towards the end of the film, the filmmakers throw in a brief interview with a young, Jesus-freak kid and I didn't care which one of the eight kids featured in the documentary won as long as he didn't. I got what some would call "passionate" about the outcome of the contest.

Needless to say, it's a great story. It explores the tensions of fitting in at school, parental pressure, competitiveness and hobby/interest becoming an obsession. Some have said that it is a film about America, but I wouldn't venture as far. The film says far too little about the origins and history behind the Spelling Bee contest to be about an "American phenomenon," much less about a "phenomenon" of any kind. It's a film about one Spelling Bee, but even more so about eight kids who compete in it. And their parents and siblings and teachers. It's easy as hell to get a rush of memories from childhood watching this film, and it's oftentimes easy to cringe at the intensity of the entire affair. But, all in all, "Spellbound" is a great documentary which doesn't belittle its subject, but gives it its fullest attention - the product is a tense, funny and dramatic film about kids bonding over a common obsession, while aggressively competing. Logorrhea.


25 of 30 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