Try Harder!


No Longer Available

Watch From:MN
Ticket Prices
General Public:$13.00 (+ $2 online fee)
Members:$10.00 (no online fee)
Film Info
Premiere Status:Minnesota Premiere
Programs:New American Visions
Women & Film
Spotlight: Common Ground
Women Directors
Best of Fest Encores
Release Year:2021
Runtime:85 min
Print Source:The Film Collaborative
Director:Debbie Lum
Executive Producer:Geralyn Dreyfous
Naja Pham Lockwood
Jean Tsien
Lois Vossen
Sally Jo Fifer
Tony Hsieh
Roberto Grande
Mimi Pham
Kathryn Everett
Bryn Mooser
Producer:Nico Opper
Lou Nakasako
Debbie Lum
Cinematographer:Lou Nakasako
Kathy Huang
Editor:Andrew Gersh
Amy Ferraris
Composer:Diana Salier


Best of Fest Encores

At Lowell High School in San Francisco, the Asian American majority student body is made up of high-performing kids, who are gunning for spots at the most elite universities, and who are becoming more and more stressed as the pressure mounts to meet their own high expectations, as well as those of their parents.

Lowell High has a stellar reputation – it is, without question, the best public high school in the city. Following a diverse group of students, director Debbie Lum observes these impressive young people as they embark on the gruelling college application process, fixating over every detail in their applications to make sure they stand out. Along the way, they must confront their own limitations and face factors beyond their control (the elite colleges discriminate against schools such as Lowell with a high percentage of Asian American students). Try Harder! is a warm, yet critical, look at the system and at these students, who are brilliant, anxious, and, above all, teenagers. “[A] very funny movie about a bunch of students trying to find their way through a system that is designed to keep them out rather than let them in.” --Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

Director Biography

Debbie Lum Based in San Francisco and educated at Brown University and San Francisco State University, Debbie Lum is an award-winning filmmaker who got her start as a film editor for documentary filmmaker Spencer Nakasako. She is the director of the short film “Chinese Beauty” (2005) and the feature documentary Seeking Asian Female (2012). Try Harder! (2021) is her most recent film.