National Geographic’s latest documentary feature is “Own The Room”, which follows five young star students from around the world, who go on an incredible journey to win a Global Student Entrepreneur Award. It’s one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for student entrepreneurs in Macau, China. They’ve each overcome immense obstacles in pursuit of their dreams, from hurricanes to poverty to civil unrest. And with an opportunity to win worldwide attention and the coveted $100,000 grand prize, this is life-changing for them.
The five entrepreneurs include:
Santosh is from a small farming town in Nepal and wants to make people happy.
Alondra works the register at her family’s bakery in Puerto Rico. She created an app that helps the hard of hearing communicate with doctors.
Henry is a programming wiz from Nairobi that built an app to help university students get housing.
Jason is a marketing machine from Greece and has an app that can translate babies cries.
Daniela is an immigrant escaping the crisis in Venezuela, taking on the chemical industry from her lab at NYU to try to reduce the amount of testing needed.
If you enjoyed National Geographic’s award-winning documentary “Science Fair”, you’ll probably enjoy this documentary too. It’s an uplifting tale of five young adults who have faced a tough upbringing but want to be a success.
It’s hard not to feel compassion and respect for these five people, who have worked extremely hard to get where they have, but often seem completely overwhelmed by the experience of going to Macau, standing in front of an auditorium full of people to sell both themselves and their company to an audience of businesspeople.
The biggest side plot in the documentary involves Henry being the only person denied entry into Macau because he didn’t have enough money to enter the country but was the only person to be checked, since he was black and from Nairobi. This little side story adds a little bit of drama to the documentary, which in all honestly lacked much tension throughout.
“Own The Room” is an uplifting documentary that shows what you can do, if you put everything into it. All five of the people involved really come across as extremely smart, intelligent and driven young interpreters. However, I found the documentary to be hard to watch, because the pacing just felt so slow. Introducing each person, what they did and then spending so long dragging out the “supposed” drama of if they got through to the next stage or not.
All of the people involved in the film are nice and extremely focused, especially Santosh, who comes across as a fun guy, who just wants to make people happy. The other four people involved, just don’t have much personality and the whole film just seemed to take so long to get going. The first third of the film is spent introducing them all, and this part of the documentary was interesting, getting to know them, their backgrounds and what their business is. Then we just see them practising and giving their presentations at the different rounds, which just felt so long-winded.
“Own The Room” is a fantastic story about five young people who are making a difference by building businesses to better, not just themselves but to help others. If you enjoy learning about businesses or love to learn more about people, this is an interesting documentary, but unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. Finding out about these five people is interesting, but I could have easily just jumped 45 minutes during the middle to get to the presenting of the awards and to find out who won the grand prize. I was really hoping that one of them one the grand prize (as otherwise, the film would have been even more disappointing), but the directors spent too long trying to build tension for the award ceremony; that just didn’t work for me.
Rating 2.5 out of 5
“Own The Room” is coming exclusively to Disney+ on Friday, March 12th.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.