Race to Nowhere (2010) Poster

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Race to nowhere
julie-1-27000214 March 2011
I believe this movie is real....look around, teen misuse of ADHD drugs, alcohol, cutting, anorexia, suicide, etc. These kids are lost. Where IS the system which allows these kids to be nurtured and trusted. The school system is set up to train our kids how to live in Corporate America...we download then and push our ideals on them. Where do we honor them, teach them to know when too much is enough and how to say, "NO" this is not working for me! We do not have to buy into something that everyone is doing. One way does not fit all kids, these are unique individuals, they learn differently, thrive in different environments and will all go out into the world in different ways and express themselves. How can one boxed in system support this diversity.

I say the people who do not see this, do not want to. These kids are crying for help. Maybe the close-mindedness is prohibiting your own children from talking to you?

These children need a system that allows them to have time to create themselves,find what they love, be interested in learning and spend more time enjoying their family.

I also say if you disagree with this movie you are either living your life through your child or else over driven and under connected yourself in life?

Look around, embrace the truth, and be a part of these kids getting what they deserve!
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Imporante issue, weak documentary
eurograd30 August 2015
Overscheduled kids and teens, teach-to-the-test, erosion of free play time, stressful school environments are all real and serious problems that affect youth of America today.

"Race to Nowhere" is an attempt to cast a light and raise awareness to these problems, which are part of a larger tend where adult-led structured activities came to dominate virtually all non-sleeping time of students, in school, at home, or in the countless places they are chauffeured to and from. It follows the difficult-to- execute model of bringing several people who will tell their stories in parallel narratives while the director inserts other pieces to bring "familiar faces" of the issues the documentary portrays.

Excessive homework was the thread line chosen to guide the filmmaker throughout her project (which was born out of a situation she witnessed in her own family). It does a good job bringing and naming the issues and enumerating there.

However, there are 'execution flaws'. The parallel narratives of teens, parents, kids, teachers don't really add up depth and multiple viewpoints on the issue as much as they add length to the featured documentary.

More worrying, at some point the director starts shooting almost randomly at a variety of social issues: teen suicide (with a counterproductive and hard-to-believe direct blaming of a suicide case on a single event, which is something professional seriously advise against), income inequality, consumerism, social media hyperconectivity of teens, school district politics, teacher social standards etc. They could all be directly or indirectly tied to the hypercharged, hypercompetitive, test-driven school culture the films wants to take aim at, but they appear juggled around without much coherence or connection.

"Race to Nowhere" wasted an excellent opportunity to really look into misguided education practices and their effects on teens, but as it was unveiled, it certainly fails to rally up the audience to support the reforms the director seems to support right before the final credits.
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Failed parent's race to remorse
letsbereal14 January 2011
It would appear as if this mother set too high an expectation of her daughter, who ended up failing.

Rather than review and adjust her behavior, the mother subjects all of us to her personal therapy of blaming some "system" (undefined), as if her wrongs are not really her own, that we all do it, and that the "system" requires it.

No doubt over-scheduling and over-expecting occurs, and no doubt it is wrong, and no doubt it has negative consequences for some kids. But nowhere do we learn the extent of any of this. Does it apply to less than 1% of kids? 50%? Most kids? In other words, how big is the problem? And what is "the system?" Peer pressure? Parents? The school board? Colleges? Employers? The kids themselves? We never find out.

As another reviewer has mentioned, we know the point of the movie before we see it, but the interviews (and that's all there is) are repetitive and boring. No insights, no analysis, no new perspectives, no possible solutions. Not even any villains, just "the system."
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Shame -- what a terrible movie to show to a sensitive teenager.
BeeJay Ma12 March 2011
Race to Nowhere?

Teenagers are very sensitive and can easily be influenced, positively or negatively. They hear what they want to hear. This dejected movie tells them, at least for the first 20 or so minutes, don't do homework, don't fall into parents pressure, don't take any after school activity, or don't drive to be the best! Tells the teachers: don't give homework, don't push them to learn, or don't ask the teens to do anything. The movie tells the parents: don't pressure your children to do their best, don't help them to pursue their dreams, and don't ask them to do anything. What should they do then? It is left to the viewer.

Right from the beginning, it is obvious that the amateur filmmaker Vicki Abeles, has been depressed, has had problems with her family, especially with medical and emotional problems of her own three children, and has been under the impression that the suicide of a teenager is related to school.

The first time movie maker claims that she is exploring the culture of high achievement within her own family, her Bay Area community and around the country. The one sided interviews with selected students, parents, teachers and academicians in a selected area (only four cities) points out the negatives of our educational process. And that is a shame.

But, certainly this is not her intention. The stated goal of the film is "to foster dialogue." What she wants to stress is the issues, problems, and test-centered education as a result of the no-child-left-behind idea. Then, if this is the case, why she does not point to the fact that these are the issues that the parents, teachers, and politicians need to be aware of and start to initiate a dialogue for change. Why the issue of homework is over emphasized? And why the movie, through repeated interviews with selected individuals claims that everything which goes wrong with teenagers, has to do with the pressure of overachievers. Is the suicide of a 13-year old student associated with a failing grade in a course? Couldn't it be related to the fact that she had been depressed for a while, but her parents did not realize it to get professional help? Couldn't it be related to the fact that any teenager can go through a critical period during the adolescence, but the teachers and parents need to be opening their eyes? And finally, why the title of the movie is "Race to Nowhere", rather than being "Issues, Pay Attention?" Race to nowhere implies to the teenagers that there is no future, why bother.

Probably the intention of first time movie maker is to depict the issues that teenagers are facing, the problem with our educational systems or the need for change. Unfortunately, certain critical issues have been negatively overemphasized. How can a coach teach someone to play basketball? Certainly, not by recommending to sit on a couch and listen; rather, to ask the player to practice, and practice, and practice. What is the point of repeated interview of "homework" is bad? The point is the overdose of anything is bad.

Finally, she gets it right; at the end of the movie, she summarizes the main points in a writing form; for example parents should ask children how they feel, reduce performance pressure, or know the signs of childhood depression; educators should evaluate each student on an individual basis, engage students in learning, or recognize the unique talents of each individual. Students should speak to the adults, get plenty of sleep, or do things that they enjoy.
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Completely missing the point!
nelandquinten6 December 2010
I went to a screening of "Race to Nowhere" at a high school in the East Bay of California. They were showing it in the school's auditorium, and I was really unsure as to what to expect. I was assuming an original documentary about teenager's struggling work in high school.

Instead, what I got was something else entirely. Something that I completely disliked. And I wasn't the only one, when it was over, all the students and staff members that I was sitting with started murmuring, hardly clapping only for a few seconds, and then they all got up immediately to leave, exhausted.

The interviews were uninteresting, the topic was hard to follow, and in the ending, the documentary hardly proved it's point, and left out many details that would have been vital. A lot of it was predictable, too. It's almost as if the answers that the students had given were taken straight from a script.

I recommend that you think twice before you see this boring documentary. If your a parent, you wont learn much about your kids from this. It's hardly something you can learn from and could potentially be just a waste of your time, it truly was a waste of mine.

This documentary is garbage.
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