'CodeGirl': Film Review

Courtesy of FilmBuff and Invented by Girls
An uninspired look at a laudable education project.

A worldwide competition encourages high school girls to write their own apps.

Addressing the much-lamented dearth of women entering science-related fields, the six-year-old Technovation Challenge asks teams of high school girls around the world to design, build and pitch smartphone apps worth bringing to the market. Judging from Lesley Chilcott's CodeGirl, the program makes computer fields less intimidating, pointing many in the direction of tech careers. The by-the-numbers doc, though, is less inspiring, offering little cinematic value and serving mostly as an informational film that will be useful in educational venues where kids are being encouraged to consider the contest.

Though she almost never focuses on an individual long enough to establish distinct characters, Chilcott introduces us to around a dozen teams that form in places from Cupertino to Brazil and Moldova. Their projects are as varied as their backgrounds: Though almost all have some pro-social focus, they range from the very concrete (helping lower Hepatitis rates by educating those who rely on well water) to the not-so-much (an esteem-boosting way of giving anonymous compliments to fellow students).

Rather than digging into the inspirations for each app and showing how the neophyte programmers made them work — something that would demystify things for other non-coders — Chilcott is most interested in the step-by-step of the competition, watching as teams find out if they will advance to the next level and hanging out in hotel rooms as they prep for the big San Francisco final pitch sessions. However polished the doc's tech and score, it simply doesn't find drama in this familiar template.

Production company: Invented by Girls

Director: Lesley Chilcott

Producers: Tracey Karka, Tiffany Haynes, Lesley Chilcott

Executive producers: Ted Dintersmith, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Cheryl Saban, Regina K. Scully

Director of photography: Logan Schneider

Editor: Steve Prestemon

Music: Peter G. Adams

No rating, 107 minutes

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