||Nach dem gleichnamigen Roman von Myla Goldberg (Anchor, 2001, ISBN 10:038549880)
A spelling bee is a competition where contestants, usually children, are asked to spell English words. The concept is thought to have originated in the United States, and spelling bee events are now held in many countries around the world, along with variants that require the memorisation of a specific text, such as France's "La dictée" (de Bernard Pivot) and Poland's "Dyktando". Spelling bees are rare to nonexistent in countries whose national language follows more phonemic spelling rules, as compared to the largely historical spelling of the English and French languages. (Wikipedia)
from Toba Kerson's notes: Father first obsessed with his son and learning and accomplishment until little girl who is sort of backward becomes a champion speller. Then father abandons all to train daughter who has what looks like a seizure the night before the finals of the national spelling bee then it looks like purposefully misspells the last word and loses to the last girl standing. During the night before the finals, little girl has some kind of episode and is found on the floor by father in the morning. Ch 21
Although the tale pivots on the remarkable progress made by the otherwise ordinary Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross) in spelling bees from the local level to the national finals, the larger concern of Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal's carefully structured screenplay is the fragmentation of what on the surface appears to be an accomplished, admirable family.
Saul Naumann (Gere) is a religious studies prof at Berkeley (changed from a folk-singing cantor in the book) particularly taken with the mysticism of the Kabbalah. When Eliza first exhibits her special talent, Saul takes her under his wing, impressing her with the ancient belief that all the secrets of the universe are contained in letters, and deconstructing the alphabet in a way that actually does increase her capacity for spelling.
Saul would seem an ideal head of household, at least in Northern California terms; he imparts knowledge, is home a lot and cooks dinner regularly, plays violin-and-cello duets with his gifted son Aaron (Max Minghella) and is supportive of his wife Miriam (Juliette Binoche). But he conspicuously wears his teacher's hat at home, and when he pours all his energy into helping Eliza, Aaron and Miriam go their own ways in secretive and dramatic fashions.
11-year-old Eliza Naumann comes from an odd family; they all divert their emotional frustrations into secret channels. When Eliza unexpectedly begins winning spelling bees, what had been a stable dynamic within the family becomes disrupted; long held secrets emerge, and a latent spiritual yearning is awakened in her withdrawn father Saul and compulsive mother Miriam. As Eliza moves closer and closer to the national spelling bee, the Naumann family finds itself in a spiral of surprising discovery and jarring uncertainty...