Debuting on Disney+ on March 13th, Own the Room is the latest from the documentary directing duo of Cristina Constantini and Darren Foster. The film is debuting under Disney’s National Geographic Documentary Films. It focuses on the events leading up to and including the 2019 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards which took place in Macau, China. Think Shark Tank without the investors waiving money around. The students pitch to a group of judges who rate their projects instead, and you have a decent idea of what the event is all about.
Own The Room follows 5 students around the globe specifically. We get to know them, their families, and their journey to the Awards Finals. Santoosh is from nearby Nepal and his company helps Nepalese that have left home (many moving to Macau) keep in touch with people back home. Alondra still pitches in at her parent’s bakery in Puerto Rico and is determined to help her country. As in many ways, it’s still recovering from the hurricane that devastated the island in 2017. Henry is a program coder from Nairobi looking to help African students find accommodation as on-campus housing can be scarce. Jason is an app developer from Greece looking to make things easier for new parents. And finally, there is Daniela, a refugee from Venezuela trying to disrupt the Nylon market in her lab at NYU.
As with many documentaries of the same concept, including one of Constantini and Foster’s previous films Science Fair, the filmmakers have followed around many of the participants of the summit. But have chosen the most impactful stories to highlight here. And also like Science Fair, they have succeeded in delivering a feel-good story that should satiate most audiences. It’s a fun film where you end up rooting for the participants because they are all so likable. Of course, there are obstacles as well, the biggest being Henry’s ordeal with customs at Macau which actually lead to him being temporarily deported. But that is to be expected with this type of filmmaking. And of course, the ending of the film is fairly predictable throughout the entire film. But the filmmakers keep the pace light and brisk which helps keep the audience engaged throughout.
There’s no doubt that these students are smart as a whip and likely to be future world-beaters in business based on their concepts and ideas. But the film does a good job of humanizing them for the audience as well. And while this film plays out almost exactly like every other competition-based doc made before it, there’s a reason why this type of doc keeps getting made. They simply just work.
For quarantine entertainment, you can do a lot worse than this film right now. And parents may even want to get their kids to sit through this as a possible source of inspiration. The film is squeaky clean and fun for most ages. And fans of Shark Tank and shows of that ilk show devour this with the hunger of, well…. a shark.
- Release Date: 3/12/2021