Remember the Rubik's Cube?
The mechanical puzzle seemed to disappear from the cultural landscape of the early 1980s faster than mullets and glam rock bands.
But Hungarian architect Erno Rubik's brilliant creation has apparently found a new life, despite being dismissed as a toy for nerds by those incapable of solving its mathematical complexities.
The rebirth is due in large part to the Internet and the posting of algorithms that allow some players to sort out the cube's colours in as little as 11 seconds.
Canadian documentary filmmaker Richard LeBlanc spent five years tracking a group of Cubers, young people who have created a community where they share their obsession with the toy.
LeBlanc's 70-minute long Cubers makes its premiere this weekend at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax.
"I'm a product of the 1980s and when I found out there would be a speed-cubing competition in Toronto in 2003, when there hadn't been one in 22 years, I said this is something I have to take a look at," Mr. LeBlanc said in an interview.
"I wanted to make a film about the people who take this up."
He said the project, which focuses on American Dan Knights and Canadian Matt Walters, actually started out in a more lighthearted vein.
"I had initially pitched an idea for CBC's Mockumentaries, but quickly realized after meeting some of those involved that the story was more compelling than that."
Mr. LeBlanc interviewed speed-cubing competitors in Orlando, Budapest, Paris, Tel Aviv and Chicago to tell a story he describes as the ability of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles while achieving the seemingly impossible.
"Dan Knights, for example, has an eloquent quote about how life is complex, but with a cube you can solve it every time," said Mr. LeBlanc.
For Mr. Knights, a former world champion speed-cuber and now a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, the puzzle, while individually focused, has helped him find a niche in a larger community.
"You don't need anyone else to work on it, but what's kept me in it over the years is this great community, a cross-section of people from all over the world, from all ranks of society," he said.
"It appeals to people who have learned to support themselves intellectually without input from others so that when they get together they find kindred spirits, regardless of what life path they've taken."
One of the most compelling storylines in the film is that of Rafael Algarin, a young man from the suburbs of Chicago, a self-described loner who immersed himself in the cube to numb the pain following the sudden death of a much-loved sister.
"The heart of the film for me was Rafael," said Mr. LeBlanc of the young man's determination to solve the puzzle in under 60 seconds.
He finally succeeds at the Canadian Open in 2006, but LeBlanc admits it was only by fluke they caught it on tape.
"I actually went to interview other people, not even realizing Rafael would be there. When you see us panning in it's because I'm yelling at my cameraman 'Shoot him now. Shoot him now."
Mr. LeBlanc, who claims he is not a man given to rash promises, may have to eat his words before the Sunday debut.
He promised some of the cubers he'd be able to solve the puzzle by then.
"I knew this would come back to haunt me. My promise didn't seem rash at the time because I've had five years to work on it. I've still got a couple of days."
Cubers will have its television premiere on the CBC's the Lens in the fall and then air on Biography, G4 Tech, Access, the Canadian Learning Network and the Saskatchewan Learning Network.