Documentary 'Try Harder' on Lowell High School debuts in San Francisco

"Try Harder" is a New York Times Critics Pick, and has won awards at numerous film festivals after premiering at Sundance
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's high-achieving Lowell High School has been in the news over the school district's revision of its admissions process. But while stories about Lowell often treat the students like faceless numbers, a new documentary that opens on Friday in big cities including San Francisco, sheds light on the kids as individuals, with their own dreams and challenges.

"Try Harder" is a New York Times Critics Pick, and has won awards at numerous film festivals after premiering at Sundance. The San Francisco Examiner calls it "engaging, enlightening and sometimes alarming."

The film follows five students of different races in their senior year at Lowell, as they navigated their college applications process.

RELATED: Teacher, former students react to Lowell High School changes and new documentary

Director and producer Debbie Lum joined ABC7 News anchor Kristen Sze on the 3p.m. newscast "Getting Answers" to discuss "Try Harder" along with Hudson Liao, from the group "Asians are Strong" and a Lowell alumnus, as well as Tiffany Abuan, president of the Lowell High School Parent Teacher Student Association.

They discussed a wide range of topics, from the universal challenges students face at a high pressure academic school, to what's missing from many media portrayals of the students, to why a film that portrays Asian-Americans as real, multi-dimensional people, which is more important than ever. A coalition of Asian-American groups is promoting "Try Harder"'s opening weekend, including Gold House and Asians are Strong.


"Try Harder" begins its one-week run at the Regal Stonestown Galleria theater Friday night. Some of the screenings include talks with the students featured in the film, Asian-American and educational leaders, and mental health wellness events. Information and tickets available here.



You can watch "Getting Answers" weekdays at 3p.m. on ABC7, Facebook LIVE and YouTube.

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