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Word Wars - Documentary About Competitive Scrabble

A film based on players featured in the book Word Freak


Word Wars movie poster

The movie poster for "Word Wars."

Joe Edley, G.I. Joel Sherman, Matt Graham and Marlon Hill are all familiar to readers of Stefan Fatsis' terrific book Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players.

A documentary film, Word Wars, brought those men to the big screen.

Producer and co-director Eric Chaikin is an expert Scrabble player, and appeared in Word Freak. Co-director Julian Petrillo was first assistant director for "Real Women Have Curves" and other films.

"Word Wars" focuses on Edley, Sherman, Graham and Hill -- four of the game's highest-ranked players -- and culminates with the 2002 National Scrabble Championship in San Diego, where the top prize was $25,000 and an appearance on the Today Show.

The movie won "Best Documentary" at the Sedona (Arizona) Film Festival in March 2004, and the "Audience Award" at the Full Frame Documentary Festival (Durham, North Carolina) in April 2004.

A review in the San Francisco Chronicle gushed, "One need not play the game, or even own a board, to enjoy this film."

According to a review in the Washington Post, "Hard-core aficionados of the English language and all its complexity, nuance and infuriating idiosyncrasy will no doubt delight in this documentary."

Word Wars has a running time of 76 minutes and is not rated. Some profanity is used and some drug use is seen in the film.

This is at least the second documentary about competitive Scrabble. Scrabylon was released in 2003.

And it's possible that a full-length motion picture will be made about comnpetitive Scrabble. In 2002, it was announced that two such movies were in the works -- one based on Word Freak and a second titled Your Word Against Mine.

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