Audiences in Chappaqua, Bethesda, Winnetka — high-achieving, high-pressure Westport-type towns across the country — have flocked to “Race to Nowhere.”
The film — fueled largely by word of mouth (internet-style) — has drawn so many SRO crowds at schools, churches and town hall auditoriums around the country, it’s already the 20th most successful documentary ever.
Parents, educators, clergy, physicians — and teenagers — are drawn by the theme: that years spent building resumes, being tutored and seeking perfection may not produce perfect, healthy, high-achieving kids. The result, rather, could be “unhealthy, disengaged, unprepared and stressed-out youth.”
After screenings, audiences stay for facilitated discussions. Recently, in New Canaan, a few high-achieving fathers took issue with the film’s premise that intense pressure is bad.
That’s the way the world works, they said.
Two Staples students disagreed. They’d gone with Chris Lemone — the outreach worker who runs the school’s Teen Awareness Group — and stuck around to talk. (Most of the New Canaan kids left — maybe too much homework?)
The Stapleites refuted the dads — strongly and eloquently. Their words made a tremendous impact on the adult audience.
Now, “Race to Nowhere” is coming to Westport.
The PTA Council is sponsoring a Feb. 15 viewing at Bedford Middle School. In 2 days — and with virtually no publicity — 600 free tickets sold out. It happened so quickly, the Staples student and parent communities had not even received details.
The screening cost has already put the PTA Council over their measly budget of $1000. They hope to recoup some of the money from audience donations that night.
The Council plans a 2nd screening in March. They need someone to fund the $2500. In a high-achieving community like this, someone should write a check today.
In the meantime, Westporters can click here to find details on other local screenings — including January 28 at Town Hall. Tickets to that show cost $10 each; it’s sponsored by the Learning Community Day School.
Are Westport students engaged in a “race to nowhere” — or do we avoid many of the traps that snare youngsters in similar communities?
Those questions — and others like them — will be explored here this winter. Whatever the answers, it’s clear — by the race for tickets — that “Race to Nowhere” is important to run.