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Spellbound
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Spellbound (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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

Overview

User Rating:
7.7/10   10,411 votes »
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View company contact information for Spellbound on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 October 2003 (UK) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
EVERYONE WANTS THE LAST WORD See more »
Plot:
Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 19 wins & 9 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(78 articles)
Two Boys Declared Co-Champions of Spelling Bee
 (From PEOPLE.com. 29 May 2014, 8:00 PM, PDT)

The Doc Option: Watch ‘Spellbound’ Instead of ‘Bad Words’
 (From FilmSchoolRejects. 22 March 2014, 7:00 AM, PDT)

Paul Feig Tunes Up A Musical
 (From EmpireOnline. 16 March 2014, 9:25 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Wizard film, weird country See more (103 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
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 - Tes's Teacher
Dan Brigham ... Himself - Ted's Brother
Tim Brigham ... Himself - Ted's Brother (as Tim)
Earl Brigham ... Himself - Ted's Father (as Earl)
Dorothy Brigham ... Herself - Ted's Mother (as Dorothy)
Emily Stagg ... Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
David Stagg ... Himself - Emily's Father (as David)
Suzanne Stagg ... Herself - Emily's Mother (as Suzanne)
Ashley White ... Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Angela White ... Herself - Ashley's Mother (as Angela)
Ms. Williams ... Herself - Ashley's Teacher
Sigourney White ... Herself - Ashley's Sister (as Sigourney)
Neil Kadakia ... Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
Rajesh Kadakia ... Himself - Neil's Father (as Rajesh)
Darshana Kadakia ... Herself - Neil's Mother (as Darshana)
Shivani Kadakia ... Herself - Neil's Sidter (as Shivani)
Samye Hill ... Herself - Neil's Spelling Coach
April DeGideo ... Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Al DeGideo ... Himself - April's Father (as Al)
Gale DeGideo ... Herself - April's Mother (as Gale)
Mr. Miller ... Himself - April's Teacher
Harry Altman ... Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
Fay Sharit ... Herself - Harry's Mother (as Fay)
Paige Kimble ... Herself - National Spelling Bee Director and 1981 National Champion
Alex Cameron ... Himself - National Spelling Bee Pronouncer
Mona Goldstein ... Herself - Mother of Last Year's 4th Place Speller
Frank Neuhauser ... Himself - 1925 National Champion
Jonathan Knisely ... Himself - 1971 National Champion
Balu Natarajan ... Himself - 1985 National Champion
Janaky Natarajan ... Herself - Balu's Mother
George Thampy ... Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Vinay Krupadev ... Boy Who Says Yenta
Jacques Bailly ... Himself (uncredited)
William Dolan ... Himself (uncredited)
Katie Kerwin McCrimmon ... Herself (uncredited)

Directed by
Jeffrey Blitz 
 
Produced by
Jeffrey Blitz .... producer
Ronnie Eisen .... additional producer
Sean Welch .... producer
 
Original Music by
Daniel Hulsizer 
 
Film Editing by
Yana Gorskaya 
 
Art Department
Adam Byrne .... graphics designer
Yana Gorskaya .... graphics designer
 
Sound Department
Greg Brazel .... additional sound recordist: Washington D.C.
Peter Brown .... sound re-recording mixer
Joe Dzuban .... sound effects editor
Sean Welch .... sound recordist
Peter Brown .... supervising sound editor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Jeffrey Blitz .... camera operator
Greg Brazel .... additional camera: Washington DC
Mac Carter .... additional camera: Washington DC
David Gruenberg .... additional camera: Washington DC
Rob Lyall .... additional camera: Washington DC
Sheila Smith .... additional camera: Washington DC (as Shiela Smith)
 
Editorial Department
Chris Perkel .... editorial support
Mark Reaser .... audio layback
 
Other crew
Andy Blitz .... funding provided by
Erin Heidenreich .... sales agent
Sally Steele .... publicist
Winston Emano .... publicist (uncredited)
David Magdael .... publicist (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Kate Amend .... special thanks
Jacques Bailly .... special thanks
Diane West Blitz .... special thanks
Alex Cameron .... special thanks (as Alex J. Cameron)
Mac Carter .... special thanks
Melissa Simon Disharoon .... special thanks (as Melissa Disharoon)
Michael Donaldson .... special thanks
Breck Eisner .... special thanks
Arturo Everitt .... special thanks
Bradley Feldman .... special thanks
Hugh Flick .... special thanks
Ed Gildred .... special thanks
David Gruenberg .... special thanks
Mark J. Harris .... special thanks
Adrian Herrera .... special thanks
Claire Husted .... special thanks
Martin Hynes .... special thanks
Paige Kimble .... special thanks (as Paige P. Kimble)
Jonathan Knisely .... special thanks (as Jonathan Knisley)
Eve Lindeman .... special thanks
Linda Loeffler .... special thanks
Greg McCambridge .... special thanks
Frank Neuhauser .... special thanks
Jean-Michel Richaud .... special thanks
Maia Rossini .... special thanks
Harvard L. Weiss .... special thanks
Chad Wilson .... special thanks
Robyn Wilson .... special thanks
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
97 min | Canada:95 min (Toronto International Film Festival)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:

Did You Know?

Goofs:
Boom mic visible: 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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) (TV)See more »

FAQ

Recognising the spellers
Chapter Headings, a semi-official version
See more »
26 out of 28 people found the following review useful.
Wizard film, weird country, 15 April 2005
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK

In one sense, the U.S. National Spelling Bee is a strange thing, a freakish competition for freaks to take part in, and designed to make them only more freakish. You don't have to understand the words to win, you merely have to spell them, and the winner would seem to have proved little else than their willingness to work hard for no social benefit, and their ability to withstand extreme pressure. Make no mistake, the kids featured in this documentary are bright and talented, but one can't help but wonder whether such ruthless competition, or the attitude that they are in some sense a "gifted" elite, is really good for society or for the individuals themselves.

But it's not the competition that makes 'Spellbound', a documentary about 1999's contest, so gripping (we follow eight of the 249 finalists, but the film is sympathetic to them all, and does not encourage us to set one against the rest). Rather, this comes from the way the 'Spellbound' reminds us what a diverse country America is: ethnically, socially, physically. These kids come from all over, and while on one hand we see a very unusual slice of American life in this film, it's nonetheless a surprisingly broad one. Some of the contrasts are obvious: a family of Indian descent say that in America, if you work hard, you will succeed; but we also meet a family of Mexican descent (who consider that they have worked hard and succeeded, but who have little compared with the Indians), and a black family in a grim district of Washington (arguably failing to thrive after several hundred years). Yet in spite of their differences, their children are all (give or take the final few words) as good as each other (at least when it comes to spelling). Today, social mobility in America is lower than in Europe; but the old American dream, it seems, lives on in the spelling bee. And although the extreme preparation of most competitors appears to place a ludicrously inflated value on the work ethic, and though some (though not all) of the parents are frighteningly pushy, there's also something quite sweet, in this age of guns and violence, in such a fierce competition fought only with words.

'Spellbound' is filmed without tricks, or any special artiness, but nonetheless offers an unexpected insight into contemporary American society. But please let us not copy them and bring the bee back here!

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