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The Mathematical Association of America



The Road to the World's Toughest Math Contest



A film by

George Paul Csicsery

Hard Problems is a feature documentary about the extraordinarily gifted students who represented the United States in 2006 at the world's toughest math competition—the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). It is the story of six American high school students who competed with 500 others from 90 countries in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The film shows the dedication and perseverance of these remarkably talented students, the rigorous preparation they undertake, their individuality, and the joy they get out of solving challenging problems. Above all, it captures the spirit of math competitions at the highest level.

Although American students on the whole rank well behind many countries in mathematics, American math Olympiad teams regularly finish among the top teams. While aiming to inspire and entertain, Hard Problems provides an insightful and thoughtful look at the process that produces successful teams, and ultimately, great mathematicians of the future.

Hard Problems takes a close look at exceptional students who make it to the highest levels of high school math, asking teachers, parents, siblings, the students themselves to shed light on what produces mathematical genius and how to nurture it. As we get to know them, the students in Hard Problems shatter many stereotypes and clichés about the mathematically gifted. The 90-minute production filmed in HDV will premiered in January 2008 at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego.

Funding for Hard Problems was provided by a grant from the Penn Oberlander Family Foundation, by the Ellington Management Group, LLC, and by the National Science Foundation.

Available on public television stations through American Public Television (APT).

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E-mail: hardproblems@zalafilms.com
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