Everyday Activist - Bee Nation (MLJFF 2017)

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 09:00 AM

Bee Nation (MLJFF 2017)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Because I went to a rural school I never participated in a spelling bee, though I often watched them on television. My little nephew, who lives in Lethbridge, won his junior division last month. Bee Nation documents families living on reservations in Saskatchewan, whose children participate in spelling bees at the provincial and national level. Despite having challenges, with the love and support of their families, it's amazing to watch these kids grow from the experience.

The documentary follows three families as they prepare and compete in the spelling bee, which to me is more like a performance. While the parents spent a lot of time with the kids going over word lists, they would have benefited from some coaching about how to calm their nerves and take their time especially at the national level. During the competition they are allowed to ask the judges to define the word as well as use it in a sentence, buying them time to figure out how to spell it. Experience is the best teacher and this was their first spelling bee.

I loved watching the families support each other and enjoy the trip to Toronto. Going to baseball games are fun! Afterwards it inspired one young woman to want to travel more. Another family had their inaugural road trip. One young man made it to the finals, which was a nail biter. I had trouble with the final word, so while part of me understood the frustration of losing, his performance was impressive.

I had no idea reservation schools were a different system than the other provincial schools. One of the administrators commented about the serious lack of funding his school faced as compared to other schools. Some receive extra funding for cultural heritage preservation, whereas the First Nation schools don't. Going to university in Lethbridge, I knew they had more funding opportunities than us, but I didn't know that it was because they had gone without proper funding to get to post secondary if they were from a reservation school.

Bee Nation will screen at the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival 2017 on Saturday, November 18th at 12:30 PM. It is available online as well on the CBC website. Speakers will be available after the screenings to talk about the issues presented in the film.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.