top of page

released on January 30th, 2021

Try Harder!


Debbie Lum


Debbie Lum, Lou Nakasako, & Nico Opper

Executive Producers

Jean Tsien, Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer, Tony Hsieh, Kathryn Everett, Bryn Mooser, Tracy Chou, Yun-Fang Juan, Naja Pham Lockwood, & Geralyn Dreyfous

At Lowell High School, the top public high school in San Francisco, the seniors are stressed out. As they prepare for the emotionally draining college application process, students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. They scrutinize how every element of their application, from their classes to their extracurricular activities to their racial identities, might be read by admission officers. At Lowell—where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and the majority of the student body is Asian American—the things that usually make a person stand out can feel not good enough, even commonplace.

With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum takes us to the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as experienced by high school seniors living through it. "Try Harder!" is a portrait of young adults in the most diverse American generation ever as they navigate a quintessential rite of passage and make it their own.


Debbie Lum is an award-winning filmmaker whose projects give voice to the Asian American experience and other unsung stories. "Seeking Asian Female", her feature-length debut, premiered at SXSW, aired on PBS's "Independent Lens", won Best of Fest at the Silverdocs Film Festival, won Outstanding Director at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and was featured on "This American Life".

bottom of page