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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   10,428 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:
A surprisingly suspenseful and compelling documentary 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:
Herself - Spelling Bee Participant:In summer I kind of worked around 8 to 9 hours a day, but as school began I just worked about 5 to 6 hours a day.See more »

FAQ

Recognising the spellers
Chapter Headings, a semi-official version
See more »
15 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
A surprisingly suspenseful and compelling documentary, 21 July 2004
Author: FilmOtaku (ssampon@hotmail.com) from Milwaukee, WI

When one says that they are excited to see a documentary on the 8th graders' National Spelling Bee, that person is met with a look and an `Oooookaaaay….' I was on the receiving end of these looks for the last two years when I wanted to see `Spellbound', Jeffrey Blitz's 2002 documentary about the `spelling elite'. I finally got my wish recently and was thrilled that it met (and exceeded) my high expectations for the film.

For `Spellbound', Blitz traveled around the United States and chose eight competitors, aged 11-14, to profile before the eventual climax of the actual spelling bee. We see the home lives of the eight students, who range from poverty to upper middle class affluence, single parent families, and two-parent homes. There are even Archie and Edith Bunker reincarnated as the parents of one girl, and another girl whose parents, though having lived in the United States for over twenty years, don't speak English. Though these students come from fairly different backgrounds, they seem to be treated slightly different because of their intelligence, and therefore descend upon Washington D.C. for the Spelling Bee with a commonality.

`Spellbound' is Jeffrey Blitz's first film and he already exhibits a masterful eye for the documentary genre. Though the profiles are fairly routine, the second half of the film, the Spelling Bee itself, is so compelling that I felt the same effect as your average suspense film. The viewer is naturally led to pick a `favorite', though not guided to any specific child. My `favorite' was knocked out fairly early and I truly felt something. There is nothing fancy about the camera work, there are no stark white backgrounds or a Phillip Glass score, or a reactionary topic. What I felt while watching this film was that I was sitting among the audience and letting the camera be my guide – one of the most important elements of a good documentary film.

Whether you think the subject matter isn't worthy of an hour and a half treatment, or didn't notice it in the year of `Bowling for Columbine' (which beat `Spellbound' to win the Best Documentary Oscar for 2003) I would recommend picking up this film. It's heart breaking at times, but mostly, inspirational because some of these kids have more maturity in one arm than a lot of adults I know, and their grace under pressure is both awe-inspiring and something to aspire to.

--Shelly

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