Film Clips - 2018


Breaking the Bee Documentary Making the Rounds

Breaking the Bee, a 96-minute documentary that explores and celebrates the near two-decade trend of Indian-American students winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee, made its world premiere at the 42nd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) in early April. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is America's oldest and most iconic academic competition. Since 1999, 18 of the last 22 champions have been of Indian descent, including the last 10 years in a row. This is despite Indian-Americans making up just 1 percent of the US population. “This is a story about the American dream. In such a short period of time, this community has found incredible success," says director Sam Rega, who also directed the esports documentary, League of Millions and edited the Netflix hit documentary, Dawg Fight. “These children are an inspiration to everyone who has ever participated in a spelling bee."

Co-produced by Rega and Chris Weller, the film chronicles the ups and downs of four Indian-American students, ages 7 to 14, as they strive to win the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee and cement their name in one of the longest-running sports dynasties. Along the way, celebrities, media personalities, academics, and past Scripps winners reflect on the factors that made the incredible trend possible.

Experts include CNN journalist and neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria, ESPN SportsCenter anchor and Scripps National Spelling Bee host Kevin Negandhi, comedian Hari Kondabolu, 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Nupur Lala, North South Foundation founder Ratnam Chitturi, South Asian Spelling Bee founder Rahul Walia, and academics Pawn Dhingra and Shalini Shankar.

“This is an incredible cultural achievement, but almost nobody knows about it or can explain why it's happening," says Weller, who is making his filmmaking debut with Breaking the Bee.

NC-based filmmaker Phaneendra Medida worked as a Researcher and Associate Producer for the film.

The movie is making its festival rounds including a recent screening at the New York Indian Film Festival in mid-May.