How did you use high school? I used to struggle to pass matte and get excited about the next Halo game. The kids mentioned in the new documentary science program from National Geographic Documentary Films, use their teenage years to try to cure disease, develop a 3D-printed stethoscope and redesign aircraft.
Science Fair, won the very first Festival Favorite Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and now begins its theatrical round, is a gratifying film showing students and teachers' lives as they battle against the prestigious international science and engineering Fair (ISEF).
It's competitive. It's cutthroat. And you will smile all the time.
The 90-minute film, directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, has a plethora of exaggerating children, some so entertaining that they could tear their own TV show. Despite the big differences in their background, temperament and research, everyone has a common goal: winning the $ 75,000 prize that is called ISEF champion.
High school seniors Ryan, Harsha and Abraham from Kentucky are convinced of their ability to perform under pressure as they take on the science fair circuit. Anjali, a 14-year-old sophomore at the same school, is so hilarious about herself, she points out that she may be arrogant.
Then Myllena and Gabriel, a duo from a modest city in Brazil, trying to cure Zika virus with little support from school and Kashfia, a soft-spoken Muslim girl from South Dakota who goes to a school that does not seems to appreciate academic achievements almost as much as their sports teams.
Myllena and Gabriel travel is especially heartbreaking as they travel far away from home to present their Zika survey on the ISEF scene in Los Angeles. English is not their mother tongue, which makes their struggle to impress the judges even stronger.
At the same time, Kashfia asks her school's football coach to act as her academic adviser so that she can place third during a previous ISEF competition. Her school apparently never showed her monumental performance over the speakers, and it is easy to feel disappointed with her.
Then Robbie, a West Virginia prodigy, can build an algorithm that creates songs in the style of Kanye West, but can not get good grades. He is eccentric, funny and especially related to anyone who does their best work when they face a last minute.
And a huge spotlight shines on the absolutely powerful Serena McCalla, an academic force that lives, breathes and bleeds the ISEF competition, pushing her students at Jericho High School in New York, not just making it to ISEF, but hopefully sweep it
The stories are extraordinary, but the characters are easy to relate to. They are inspiring and they can make you want you to have the capacity to solve such complex issues when you were young in their age.
Also, fascinating, shows none of the stereotypical, spotless "nerdiness" you can expect from a major academic event like this. They are only high-rescuers with great ideas, and these ideas can one day help save lives.
When everyone has made it to ISEF, the film shows what week it looks like: a cross between a giant summer camp and an intense competition. For many of these children this is the very first time before college they live among a larger community of their peers, who are both funny and quite scary to see from their eyes. Some are ready to interfere, others are not sure of the best way to express themselves, and some have very little interest in attending the dance field.
It's a lot to keep track of, but the movie makes it a great job that makes the stories easy to follow and allows viewers to incorporate both students' successes and setbacks. At the end of the movie's 90 minute run, you're still busy (maybe even torn up) while you wait to see which children have won and who just come home with amazing memories.
Science Fair opens in theaters on September 14 in limited edition, and comes to several theaters on September 28th.
: The highest peak of the northeast is an unsatisfactory environment for people and gadgets.
: This is Major Worm to Ground Control: I spin through the door and I float in the most strange way.