Coming to DVD/VOD today, Tuesday, March 9:
San Francisco DocFest 2020
A profile of wordsmiths competing in the World Palindrome Championship.
While it draws the tiniest fraction of competitors as compared to Will Shortz’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the World Palindrome Championship is the Olympics of wordplay for a small but obsessed group of dedicated palindromists – individuals who write phrases, or even whole poems, that read the same both backward and forward (even if the results often are decidedly grammatically challenged or simply nonsensical). Filmmaker Vince Clemente chronicles the 2017 contest – only its second edition – while also profiling several competitors in the lead-up to the event, along with assorted other palindrome fans like singer Weird Al Yankovic and actor Danica McKellar, as well as some history. Given that the contest itself is not particularly cinematic, primarily consisting of scenes of competitors writing, with some awkward direct-to-camera reaction interviews, these earlier profiles help to capture the participants’ quirky personalities and something of what attracts them to palindromic pursuits. As a whole, however, while inoffensive and appropriately light, the film feels choppy and padded, suggesting that there’s not quite enough here to merit feature treatment.