Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2002
USA: ThinkFilm
UK: Metrodome Distribution
Cast: Harry Altman, Angela Arenivar, Ted Brigham, April DeGideo, Neil Kadakia, Nupur Lala, Emily Stagg, Ashley White, Alex Cameron
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Country: USA
USA: 95 mins
UK: 97 mins
UK Certificate: U contains one use of mild language
USA Release Date: 30 April 2003 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 10 October 2003


SPELLBOUND is Jeff Blitz's award-winning directorial debut, which has just opened to critical and box office success in America. SPELLBOUND is produced by Sean Welch and Jeff Blitz. Blitz was also the director of photography. The featured Spellers are: Harry Altman, Angela Arenivar, Ted Brigham, April Degideo, Neil Kadakia, Nupur Lala, Emily Stagg, and Ashley White.

SPELLBOUND presents the intense, real-life experience of the National Spelling Bee as illustrated by the stories of eight driven, young spellers who compete for the top prize. Through the keenly observant and humane vision of director Jeff Blitz and producer Sean Welch, the audience shares the private lives of the students as they train for and compete in the ultimate intellectual showdown, discovering not only their individual personalities, their obsessive study habits, their sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes inspiring family dynamics, but also the story of America itself.

It is one of the most celebrated non-fiction films in years, awards so far include winning the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the San Francisco DocFest, Best Documentary at the Woodstock Film Festival, and being nominated for the "Truer Than Fiction" Prize at this year's Spirit Awards, as well as being nominated for Best Documentary at this year's Academy Awards.

Jeff Blitz grew up with a halting childhood stuttering problem that gave rise to an early fascination with speech and storytelling. Blitz didn't let his lack of fluency stop him from joining high school debates; and he eventually became president of his team and won several New Jersey state championships. That interest in language developed into the study of creative writing as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins College. Blitz then went on to USC film school where he won the school's prestigious Presidential Fellowship and directed the award-winning short film, WONDERLAND, with George Segal. Since graduating, Jeff has worked at the Writers Guild of America, researching the secret screenplay histories of writers blacklisted in the 1940s and '50s. Sean Welch moved back to Los Angeles after spending his more formative years in Berkeley, CA, working as a carpenter and playing semi-pro soccer. Since returning, Sean has worked on feature films (CRIMSON TIDE and FACE OFF) and began producing commercials. Editor, Yana Gorskaya (IN THE NAME OF LOVE and SONNY BOY), is originally from Russia and was raised in Oregon, so related to many of the spellers and their immigrant work ethic. SPELLBOUND has an original score composed by Michael Hulsizer.

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