Brainiacs(working title) follows five 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair from around the world, celebrating their creativity and enthusiasm before, during and after the competition as they tackle the most complex issues facing humanity today. At an international contest with 1700 finalists from over 80 countries, the stakes are high, but the heart of our story is not whether our characters win or lose. In comparison to the severity of the environmental crisis this generation has inherited, whether they go home with an award is not their greatest concern.

We immerse the audience into a global view of the world's environmental crisis via the generation who will be affected by it most, via students who are keenly aware of the burden their generation faces. In a society where the grown ups have effectively failed to act in the face of an oncoming disaster, the clarity of vision these young people demonstrate calls for a worldwide role reversal where the youth are leading. Yet they are still teenagers, with teenage problems of their own.

Before the competition, the audience meets each character in the midst of a scientific quest they are pursuing in their home environment, so we can understand the depth of each student's commitment to their project -- some spend upwards of 600 hours on their projects. We meet families, friends and teachers; gain intimate experience of the environmental threats being addressed; spend time in classrooms and labs; and witness each student's unique intellectual and emotional journey on their way to ISEF.

At the big competition in Los Angeles mid May 2017, the students dedicated to developing their projects are under scrutiny as they face 1000 judges, all specialists in their extraordinarily complex fields. They also finally meet their peers who are just as bright and determined as they are, competing in every category of STEM, from Robotics to Computer Science. Throughout the week amidst the social activities, field trips, science lectures, and the gauntlet of judging, these students form a bond that many call life changing. At the Olympics of science fairs, many find a brand new community they stay in touch with throughout their future careers.

After ISEF, we follow our characters home to witness how each of them process their experience. Some leave with a renewed sense of purpose for their current project, others are inspired to pursue a new direction based on the discoveries they made listening to Nobel Laureates at the fair. After they get home and share their stories with friends and family, they each realize they belong to a special community now, which believes in a shared vision of environmental stewardship and collective action.


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]