TRY HARDER! Screening / Q&A with MOT

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December 7, 2021
7:00pm Pacific Time
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Welcome to this special screening of TRY HARDER! and live Q&A presented in collaboration with the Museum of Tolerance.

Following the film, join director Debbie Lum and special guests in conversation.

Video Descriptions

Try Harder! | Official Trailer

IN THEATERS DECEMBER 3. ON DIGITAL DECEMBER 24.   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. At Lowell—where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and most of the student body is Asian American—the things that usually make a person stand out can feel commonplace. With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum captures the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as young adults navigate a quintessential rite of passage.   About Greenwich Entertainment: Founded in 2017, Greenwich Entertainment is an independent film distribution company specializing in distinctive, theatrical-quality narrative and documentary features. In 2018, Greenwich handled the record-setting theatrical release of Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi’s Academy Award-winning documentary Free Solo, which grossed over $17M at the North American box office. In 2019, Greenwich released two of the top documentary hits of the year with Andrew Slater’s Echo in the Canyon ($3.4M) and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice ($4.3M) from Oscar winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The Greenwich team has overseen more than 150 theatrical releases generating over $100 million at the US box office and garnering 8 Academy Award Nominations and 2 Wins.   Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:

Try Harder!

For Museum of Tolerance

85min 49sec



    In a world where cool kids are nerds, the orchestra is world class and being Asian American is the norm, seniors at Lowell High School share the dream and the stress of acceptance to an elite college in America.


  • Panelist Avatar
    Debbie Lum, Director of TRY HARDER!


    Debbie Lum is an award-winning San Francisco-based filmmaker whose projects give voice to the Asian American experience and other unsung stories. SEEKING ASIAN FE-MALE, her feature-length directing debut premiered at SXSW, aired on PBS' Independent Lens and won numerous awards, including Best of Fest (Silverdocs), Best Feature Documentary (CAAMFest) and Outstanding Director (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival). It was also profiled on PRI’s This American Life. The film was a “fan favorite” on PBS and alongside its broadcast premiere, Lum launched, a companion website and 5-part short video series about race and dating. Previously she worked as a documentary editor; her editing credits include A.K.A DON BONUS (winner, National Em-my), KELLY LOVES TONY (nominee, IDA Best Documentary), which she also co-produced and TO YOU SWEETHEART, ALOHA (winner, Audience Award, VC LA Film Festival). She has also written and directed several short comedies, CHINESE BEAUTY, A GREAT DEAL! and ONE APRIL MORNING, which screened at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival among many others. She has an M.F.A in Cinema from San Francisco State University, a B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Andrew Gersh, Editor of TRY HARDER!


    Andrew Gersh is an award-winning documentary film editor based in Portland, Oregon and the San Francisco Bay Area. His latest feature documentaries include CRIP CAMP: A Disa-bility Revolution, winner of the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2020 Sun-dance Film Festival. CRIP CAMP was acquired by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions and Netflix, and has been nominated for both Critics Choice and International Documentary Association Best Editing awards. For REAL BOY, he was awarded the Karen Schmeer Ex-cellence in Documentary Editing Award at the 2016 Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston 2016), and the James Lyons Editing Award For Documentary Feature at the 2016 Woodstock Film Festival. The film has won best-of-fest awards around the world, with a national broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens. SPARK: A Burning Man Story premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, was an official selection to both Se-attle International and Ashland Independent film festivals, and was the opening-night film of the 2013 San Francisco DocFest. THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS was awarded the Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens, followed by ITVS Community Cinema screen-ings and a national theatrical release. The film was also nominated for a 2014 News and Documentary Emmy® Award. Other recent work includes WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN (Sheffield Doc/Fest, PBS’ American Masters), ASK NOT (San Francisco International Film Festival, MoMA, PBS’ Independent Lens), DADDY DON’T GO (DOC NYC, Cleveland International Film Festival, STARZ Network) and READY, SET BAG! (Los Angeles Interna-tional Film Festival), as well as numerous films for PBS’ FRONTLINE. Gersh also works regularly as an editorial consultant, and is a Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab Fellow.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Rachael Schmidt, Subject of TRY HARDER!


    Biracial African American PSAT whiz, burgeoning writer and journalist, wants to make her mama proud and has her eyes set on an Ivy. Speaks up about anti-Blackness at Lowell.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Un Kyong Ho, Impact Producer of TRY HARDER!


    Un Kyong Ho was born in Pusan, South Korea, raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently calls the suburbs of Philadelphia home. She straddles the worlds of academia, community organizing, documentary filmmaking, and social impact producing. Un Kyong has helped produce award-winning documentaries for both film and television, including the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning PBS series A CHEF’S LIFE and the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary PRIVATE VIOLENCE. Her engagement work has addressed racial and economic justice, gender-based violence, sustainable food systems, and voting rights and election protection. Un Kyong is both a proud Midwesterner and proud product of public education. She is a forever Viking of Princeton High, holds a BA in History and German from Ohio University, and completed her JD/MA from the University of Cincinnati School of Law, where she focused her scholarly work on the intersections of intellectual property, food justice, and reproductive rights from a postcolonial, feminist lens. In all her work, Un Kyong is interested in uplifting and empowering marginalized, underrepresented communities, and using storytelling as a vehicle for positive social change. She is the mother of two and a regular attendee at her local school board meetings.

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.