Freep Film Festival - Try Harder!

April 13 2024 | 2:00pm

A young Asian graduate standing in a crowd of family.

Lowell High School is the top-ranked public high school in San Francisco – and 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 schools.

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. So what does it take for each student to stand out in an admissions process that systemically fails to see their individuality? And at what cost? “Try Harder!” takes us to the alarming reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race and educational opportunity as experienced by five high school students living through it.

With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum captures the hopes, dreams and anxieties of the most diverse American generation ever as they navigate a quintessential rite of passage and make it their own.

The AAPI series was curated by Razi Jafri, a Detroit-based documentary filmmaker.

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