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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Speed Cubers is a short documentary by Sue Kim about the world of competitive Rubik's Cube speed solving. Two leading solvers are profiled, with the film evolving into a story of friendship and growth, decency and generosity, and overcoming hardships. The seemingly greatest speed cuber of all time is 17-year-old Max Park, a young Californian competitor with autism. His parents, who encouraged his gift for cubing, hoped participating in competitions would help him learn social and emotional skills. Thanks to his friendship with the world champion he unseated, Max took away far more from the experience than they could ever have imagined. This is an inspirational movie that will appeal to all ages.
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What's the story?
The world of competitive Rubik's Cube solving is revealed in THE SPEED CUBERS, a 2020 short documentary by Sue Kim. Competitors come together from around the world for national and world meets to perform the high-pressure feat of solving different sized cubes while the stopwatch runs, in some cases blindfolded or one-handed. Hungarian architect Erno Rubik originally invented the Cube in 1974, and quickly discovered he couldn't solve it, but he launched a challenge that others rose to. Feiiks Zemdegs, 23, a cheerful young Australian cuber, dominated the field for many years until Californian Max Park, 17, starting breaking into the upper echelon in recent years. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Max took to cubing quickly. His parents viewed the gift as a window into teaching him social skills that other parents take for granted in their growing kids. By his second competition, Max started winning and eventually met his idol, Feliks. Feliks, six years older, greeted his rival warmly and graciously, even as Max began breaking Feliks' hard-won world records. The movie records beautiful moments in their growing friendship, which has continued even as Max has beaten Feliks repeatedly. Feliks and Max both lost the 2019 World competition, at which time they both repeated their shared mantra that loss "makes you stronger."
Is it any good?
This begins as a typical documentary about dedicated kids competing under high pressure, but almost immediately becomes so much more. Director Kim offers an emotional, inspiring, uplifting story about overcoming obstacles, about parental wisdom and devotion, and about friendship between rivals who love each other. As The Speed Cubers describes, speed cubing requires cubers apply the mind-boggling ability to apply hundreds of algorithms in seconds as they combine that skill with extraordinary digital dexterity. Cubing fans may also enjoy Why We Cube: A Speedcubing Documentary and Cubers. Feliks Zemdegs hosts a YouTube channel on cubing tips and a website, CubeSkills, offering tutorials on how to solve Rubik's Cubes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how it must have felt to Max when his hero Feliks offered his friendship. Why is it important to have role models?
What do you think both Feliks and Max have learned about competing in The Speed Cubers? How do they handle loss?
Max's parents talk about what Max learned from competing among crowds, learning to stand in line, to wait his turn, to interact with officials and other competitors. How do you think his parents' downplaying the importance of winning helped him become a better competitor and also helped him grow as a person?
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