”Try Harder!” with Debbie Lum

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For many 17- and 18-year-olds, life exists on the unsettling edge between the daily grind of high school and the promised land of freedom and opportunity: college. The brilliance of Debbie Lum’s enthralling new documentary “Try Harder!” is that it occupies the treacherous space in between these two worlds by focusing on the hyper competitive college application process. With an all-access pass to Lowell High School, San Francisco’s top-ranked public high school, “Try Harder!” profiles five endearing students (and their parents) who are struggling to make it through the process in one piece.

In this up-close-and-personal conversation, Mike and Ken discover that they went to the same college as Debbie (but during a much less competitive time). When Mike shares his recent experiences as a parent of a student who has just gone through all this, Debbie jokingly calls Mike a “wolf dad”, and the podcast is off-and-running… How did Debbie get access to Lowell and what got the students to open up to her and her crew? Why was it so important to Debbie to explore — and explode — the myth of Asian Americans as a model minority? (At Lowell, the majority of the student body is Asian American). And why did Debbie want the silly and fun side of adolescence to shine through just as much as the academics? Join us for this silly/fun/warm conversation about growing up. To be admitted, all you need to do is press “play”.

“Try Harder!” (Greenwich Entertainment) debuts in theaters December 3rd in New York, LA and the SF Bay Area and will have its broadcast premiere on PBS’ Independent Lens on May 2, 2022.

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