Breaking the Bee

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

7:30 PM

Filmmaker: Sam Rega

About This Show

Breaking the Bee follows four, second-generation Indian-American children, ages 7 to 14, over the course of a year, or "bee season", as they train to reach the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee. It is an inside look at studying, family life, competing in qualifying bees and being a kid with big dreams. Some are in their final year of eligibility while others are just beginning their spelling careers. With expert commentary from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Fareed Zakaria, comedian Hari Kondabolu, ESPN's Kevin Negandhi and past Scripps winners, the film offers an analysis into what drives this trend, while exploring the ups and downs of chasing a dream and pondering just how long this incredible trend can last. After years of tireless devotion, who will be standing on stage as the confetti rains down?

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a 90-year-old competition pitting students against the almighty dictionary. Since 1999, all but four contest winners have been Indian-American, and of the 285-plus children who make it to Scripps each year, roughly 25 percent come from families of Indian descent. The perfect storm has been brewing for decades - from the 1965 immigration law that eliminated quota systems for Indian immigrants, thus driving a wave of highly educated workers to come to the United States, to the formation of Indian-only spelling bees, to the explosion of mainstream interest in competitive spelling, ever since ESPN began broadcasting the Scripps Bee in 1994. This is something of an anomaly, as Indian-Americans make up one percent of the United States population. And it's hardly a coincidence.

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