Eleven year-old Akeelah Anderson’s life is not easy: her father is dead, her mom ignores her, her brother runs with the local gangbangers. She’s smart, but her environment threatens to strangle her aspirations. Responding to a threat by her school’s principal, Akeelah participates in a spelling bee to avoid detention for her many absences. Much to her surprise and embarrassment, she wins. Her principal asks her to seek coaching from an English professor named Dr. Larabee for the more prestigious regional bee. As the possibility of making it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee looms, Akeelah could provide her community with someone to rally around and be proud of — but only if she can overcome her insecurities and her distracting home life. She also must get past Dr. Larabee’s demons, and a field of more experienced and privileged fellow spellers.
When plans for a weekend vacation hit a dead end, a group of close-knit friends find themselves stranded in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing predator. Holed up in an isolated cabin, tensions mount as long-buried secrets are revealed. As the body count rises, the group must put their differences aside and fight for survival. Animal is from executive producers Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen.
Bambi wants to publish his credos and chronicles and start his career the way any other normal young writer would. For Bambi, however, normal is the quandary. “Normal” means returning to Watts, Los Angeles, after a 28-month jail stint to find his young son playing next to his strung-out grandmother. It’s normal for the patriarch of his family to offer Bambi pills, guns, and a drug-running job as a way to welcome him home. A normal visit from his cousin involves Bambi and son performing minor surgery to extract a bullet from his arm. Bambi meets this surreal, ghetto normal with equanimity, but he knows life can’t be “normal” like this for long. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]