Science Fair

All’s not quite fair in education and science.

Toward the end of Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster’s wonderful documentary Science Fair, a teacher in the United States comments, “We’ve kind of lost our way — it’s almost like we’re anti-science in this country now.” Y’think? Science Fair follows nine students from countries that include (but are not limited to) the U.S. and Brazil as they make their way to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the largest such pre-college event in the world. Science Fair takes a global view of the international competition, looking at how the competitive aspect is ultimately less important than how it brings like-minded smart kids together and encourages them to keep at it, even if they don’t win on the day.

It’s an uplifting film that almost provides a sense of hope for the future — so basically, it has the opposite effect of American Chaos. Embodying chaos of America is one Kashfia, a Muslim girl in South Dakota whose high school ignores her academic achievements in favor of athletics. This is in spite of the fact that the school is terrible at athletics — personified by a pair of giggling, towheaded boys who have no idea who Kashfia is — and even after she kicks ass at ISEF, the school still refuses to acknowledge her. MAGA, indeed.

Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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