In Make Believe, director J. Clay Tweel follows six adolescent outsiders who all share an extraordinary passion: the art of magic. Armed with great skill and a dazzling array of illusions, these teenagers embark from the varied hometowns of Malibu, California; Chicago, Illinois; Capetown, South Africa; Littleton, Colorado; and Kitayama, Japan to attend the annual World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, where they each hope to be named Teen World Champion by master magician Lance Burton. The film's six subjects are remarkably assured and dedicated entertainers. Offstage, however, they face the diverse obstacles of adolescence: loneliness, high parental expectations, the pressures of impending stardom, abject poverty, and the deep desire to fit in. With great humor, honesty, and heart, Make Believe reveals an enduring world that audiences know little about while it also explores a time of life no one ever forgets.
- J Clay Tweel
- Cleven S. Loham
- Lance Burton, Siphiwe Fangase, Hiroki Hara, Bill Koch, Krystyn Lambert, Derek McKee, Nkumbuzo Nkonyana, Ed Alonzo, Neil Patrick Harris
The young people seen here never seem artificial; you feel their passion for doing magic, as well as their nagging loneliness, devoted as they are to practicing card tricks and such for hours on end, while their peers are off doing what most teenagers do.Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, 05.12.2011
A charming, affectionate and often elegantly executed study of teenage magicians, their craft and the social shadows they step out of when they do their stuff.John Anderson, Variety, 05.05.2011
The various sleights of hand are impressive even if we're afforded little insight into their actual execution. Still, it's fun stuff.Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, 05.26.2011
This tension between self-expression and professional advancement is fascinating material, but first-time director-editor J. Clay Tweel avoids the nuance that might have brought it to life.Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, 05.12.2011