Science Fair (2018)

The digital release is available today on ITunes, Amazon, & Google Play. It will also be back in movie theaters this week. It’s currently playing in Los Angeles (LaEmmle Monica Film Festival), New York (IFC Center, Cinema Village), & San Francisco (LandMark’s Opera plaza). Look for Theater Listings Here.

Cristina Costantini, and Darren Foster’s “Science Fair” is a film that every family should take their children to watch. Not only does the National Geographic documentary explore the joy of learning, but the inarguable proof that education can enrich one’s life. “Science Fair” examines a part of the educational world that we don’t often see, exploring the very important yearly International Science and Engineering Fair that attracts 1,700 of the smartest students from 78 different countries around the world.

You wouldn’t think a movie about a science fair would be cause for much interesting entertainment, but the pair of directors manages to evoke a lot of tension and emotion from the various people we meet here. “Science Fair” examines the personal commitment it takes to build on the experiments and hypotheses for the various experiments, and how the fair is literally open to any child willing to put in hard work. “Science Fair” is an often enlightening and engaging film that explores the sheer delight of structure and how much the students and teachers invest in it. For them it’s a challenging competition that exercises their discipline, their ability to work as a team, and takes a toll on them.

One student even declines in health over the duration of the competition but is inspired to pull through to allow her to display her experiment. “Science Fair” covers all the bases with a wonderfully edited exploration of the competition. We meet the students, understand the diverse home lives they come from, there is lengthy discussion with past competitors, and look at the history of the fair. One of the better segments discusses the trends that passed through the competition over the years from giant charts to Velcro. One of the most inspiring chapters, though, involves the discussion with Serena McCalla, a stern and straight forward teacher with a science background who has devoted every bit of her free time to mentoring her students and turning them in to competitors for the fair.

McCalla is one of the most inspiring figures who is so committed to what she does, that she confesses to sacrificing much of her personal life in the process. “Science Fair” is a winning and utterly entertaining look at the joys of education and the sheer importance science plays in our everyday lives. In a society where science is more and more under valued, “Science Fair” is a breath of fresh air that revels in the joy of bettering ourselves, and learning new things beyond the scope of our world.