Breaking the Bee | Denver Film Society | Sam Rega | USA

Breaking the Bee

Sam Rega

Asian, Family Friendly


EnglishUSA201896 min


No upcoming showtimes scheduled.


In 2002, a little movie called Spellbound, which profiled the teenaged hopefuls competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, became a surprise hit on the arthouse circuit—part of a new wave of feature documentaries to capture the attention of (relatively) mainstream audiences for being as entertaining as they were enlightening.

In the years since the film’s release, the historic bee has become something of a pop-cultural sensation, broadcast annually on ESPN. It has also given rise to a dynasty. While every bit as delightful as its predecessor, Breaking the Bee looks at the competition from a new perspective—the young Indian-American phenoms who’ve swept it for the past two decades.

As director Sam Rega reveals, roughly 25 percent of the nearly 300 children who make it onto the Scripps stage annually are of Indian descent—yet only one percent of the United States population is. What drives these extraordinary children of immigrants, and what do their trials and triumphs reveal about the American democratic experiment? Rega interweaves his profiles of the enchanting little busy bees—including seven-year-old Mensa member Akash—as they train for the championship over the course of a year with commentary from CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria, ESPN anchor and bee emcee Kevin Negandhi, comedian Hari Kondabolu, and, of course, Nupur Lala, the now-grown champ we first met in Spellbound.

Director/screenwriter Sam Rega and screenwriter/producer Chris Weller will be in attendance for all screenings.

Producer: Sam Rega, Chris Weller | Editor: Sam Rega | Cinematographer: Corey Eisenstein | Screenwriter: Sam Rega, Chris Weller
Cast: Sanjay Gupta, Fareed Zakaria, Hari Kondabolu, Kevin Negandhi, Nupur Lala

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