Yes, there are schools for the talented and gifted. I much, much prefer schools for the untalented and ungifted, because that is where the real magic lies.
I love the film for the way it portrayed a variety of parenting styles. The tiger moms (in this case, as one woman claimed, she's 'beyond a tiger), the wealthy moms, the immigrant moms and the "I'm not sure where this kid comes from" moms, provided unique perspectives (although I wondered where the dads were...there's a gendered nuanced to these narratives...is it supposed to be that some mothers care more for their kids? I'm not sure).
Then there were the kids. Many of them were simply brilliant. They were destined to be in top-tiered schools. A few were studious and earned their way there. Others were studious, and brilliant, but did not get the necessary scores. Of course, even more don't even have the drive or parenting to compete. Maybe that was the point of the documentary.
The filmed helped me to realize, however, how important parents are to gaming a very complicated system. Some of the parents were highly intense and, as a result, achieved their end goal. I'm not sure I'd ever feel comfortable in a school with such high strung individuals.
I left the film thinking, "To what end? Why?" I'm a little perplexed by the danger of the single story being told...that is, the top three schools are the only locations where learning really occurs. Bullshit.
That wasn't Mr. Chin's point, however. He had to find a way to tell the story of what it's like for these 8th graders experiencing the pressure of getting into 9th grade. I have to always think critically about who is funding such a film, and how it comes to be that such a narrative can be made. I left feeling satisfied that I went...knowing more than ever that I much prefer printed text to film. Two hours offers a snapshot (although I'm sure he had a year of footage). He solidified for me the similarities cinematographers and writers have - what's the data tell us and where do we go to offer the most compelling story for right now?