This inspiring documentary brims with optimism derived from the boundless curiosity and ambition of young people eager to improve the world through innovations in science and engineering. Set aside antiquated notions of science fairs dominated by baking soda volcanoes and batteries made from lemons. To make it to the premier event of its kind, Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair’s (ISEF) students are more likely working on curing cancer than making model volcanoes froth.
Filmmakers Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster deftly weave together the physical and emotional journeys of nine high schoolers as they strive to earn the right to join 1,700 other students from around the world at the 2017 edition of ISEF. While not all of them are winners in the eyes of the judges, viewers cannot help but be impressed with the students as they tirelessly pursue their dreams. In a time when the world often seems paralyzed by division and the upper echelons of government are held hostage by science-deniers to an astonishing degree, it’s heartening to see a shared passion for knowledge and scientific advancement transcend cultural and political divides. —Mark Valentine
Winner, Festival Favorite Award, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Science Fair is Cristina Constantini's first feature and second collaboration with Darren. The pair previously partnered on Death by Fentanyl, a 2017 duPont Award-winning investigation about an opiate that's making the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history even deadlier. Her first TV documentary, which looked at sex trafficking in Mexico, was nominated for two Emmys and her reporting on immigration has won awards from GLAAD and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Long before Cristina was an investigative journalist, she was a science fair nerd. As a dweeby high school kid from Wisconsin, the international science fair is where she found her tribe. The documentary Science Fair is a love letter to a world that validated her during the dark years that are high school. As a freshman, she placed fourth and it changed her life forever.
Darren Foster is co-founder of MUCK Media, the production company that produced SCIENCE FAIR. His work has appeared on VICE, Discovery, National Geographic, PBS, CNN, ABC, Channel 4 (UK), the CBC and Current TV. Darren has an MS from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. Born and raised in New York, he now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mariana and son Vasco.