"spellbound" vs. "bee season"
In Anthony Lane's review in the New Yorker of the spelling bee-related movie "Bee Season," he captured perfectly what made the documentary "Spellbound" such a fascinating look into the lives of the competitors:
It was “Spellbound,” the 2002 documentary about spelling bees, that set the standard for anybody wishing to approach the angular packages of spectacles, orthodontic braces, giant craniums, and even bigger ears—in short, the children—who triumph in this unusual field. What that movie grasped was that these prodigies are randomly scattered across state, class, and ethnic lines, and that to listen to their aspirations, or their techniques for word-hoarding, is a joyous exercise in human curiosity. There is, therefore, a slightly deflated sensation as one realizes that “Bee Season” will focus on one child from a hypereducated West Coast family, where high expectations are the norm.Sounds like if you're in search of new fictional accounts of spelling bees, and if you're in New York, your best bet is the ongoing play "The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee."