Tribeca alum Dan Chen returns to the festival with Accepted, an intriguing look at the high stakes quest for college admissions. In rural Louisiana, the TM Landry Prep School boasted a remarkable 100 percent college acceptance rate for its ambitious, underprivileged high school graduates. Adherence to the strict discipline and unconventional teaching program created by its charismatic founder Mike Landry all but guaranteed admission into the country’s most elite colleges, but did the means justify the ends? When the New York Times reported on the school’s secret to success, their exposé blew the lid off of Landry’s controversial methods, and the school buckles under the scrutiny, leaving the students' fates hanging in the balance.
This documentary follows four students poised to excel before the exposé threatens to derail their futures. The film provides well-rounded portraits of the students’ home lives, their confusion and anxieties, while also seeking to understand Landry's rationale, and examines the double standards between the haves and the have nots in the quest for the elusive college acceptance letter. Told with nuance and care, Chen achieves a poignant, thought-provoking film certain to spark conversation about equity in education and the ethics of college admissions. —Karen McMullen
Dan Chen grew up in Kansas and lives in Los Angeles. Tribeca and Slamdance have premiered his work, and his short films have been featured in Vimeo Staff Picks and Short of the Week. He’s interested in stories about outsiders, fallibility, and coming of age.