Documentaries about partially quirky niche subjects have to tread carefully unless the narrative has a “stranger than fiction” angle. Science Fair filmmakers Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster set the stage for their tone awfully fast by opening up their doc with the purity and lucrative opportunities that comes with winning “Best in Fair” at the prestigious Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair); giving audiences a taste of the inspiration and the exposure this film will give insight to.
Students from across the globe compete for a booth at ISEF in hopes they’ll gain scholarly credibility, funding for a cause their award-winning project is based on, or a deeper footprint in the career they’re vying for. Science Fair chooses to follow a small handful of these stories from participants ranging from young prodigies elaborating on their own breakthroughs to a teacher who challenges her own class of geniuses to reach for the stars. Though some stories are lighter than others, the audience doesn’t feel short-changed. Science Fair finds the perfect balance to showcase the individual personalities behind the projects, but also allows the students to indulge in their own accomplishments.
Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster have made an inclusive film that wants its brilliant subjects to feel proud of themselves and, at the same time, show audiences the power of taking pride in your work. Science Fair succeeds in spades.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie