’s 2002 spelling-bee documentary “Spellbound
” continues to cast a long shadow over contemporary nonfiction cinema, with Laura Nix
’s “Inventing Tomorrow
” the latest doc to hew to that formal template. Nix’s film follows a collection of young kids as they prepare for, and then compete at, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Isef), dubbed by one speaker as “The science fair of science fairs.” “Inventing Tomorrow
” won’t win points for originality, but this snapshot of adolescent ingenuity and innovation, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, nonetheless proves equally entertaining and inspiring.
The documentary is structured in two parts, the first focusing on the backstories and creative undertakings of its subjects as they face polluted home environments. In Bangalore, India, 16-year-old Sahithi
takes samples of the area’s lakes, which are so contaminated that they’re covered in mountains of noxious foam, which often blows into the streets and onto unsuspecting pedestrians. Teenagers Jesus, Jose