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IndieLens Pop-Up: Try Harder!

IndieLens Pop-Up: Try Harder!

IndieLens Pop-Up
Wed, Apr 20 7pm FREE

Discussion with Producer Nico Opper and Assistant Professor of STEM Education at SSU Kevin Nguyen moderated by Ianthe Brautigan Swensen Adjunct Professor at SRJC and SSU to follow film!

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"Try Harder! is an era-defining documentary on the Ivy league aspirant culture" — The Film Companion

At a prestigious public high school with a majority Asian American student body, fiercely competitive seniors share the dream, and the stress, of getting into a top university.

Description: San Francisco's Lowell High, one of the best public schools in the country, draws high achievers—nearly 70% Asian Americans—from across the city into a fiercely competitive universe. The camera follows seniors through the hallways and into classrooms as the pressure intensifies to impress admissions officers at elite universities with their report cards, test scores, and overall awesomeness. The students proudly own their identity as nerds and tell their stories with candor and humor despite the stress. The film asks: How do these kids define their identities outside of acceptance letters?

Panel Bios:

Ianthe Brautigan Swensen, Moderator Adjunct Instrutor, English and Creative Writing Santa Rosa Junion College and Sonoma State University

Ianthe is the author of the memoir You Can't Catch Death, which has been translated into Swedish and German and recorded by Audible books.

Ianthe has written for the PBS series, Joanne Weir's Plates and Places (2018-2020), which reaches 96% of the households in the United States. She has written introductions for several literary publications, including the French translation of a collection of poetry by her late father, Richard Brautigan, a new translation of Brautigan's Revenge of the Lawn, and Please Plant this Book, and is working on a documentary about Richard Brautigan. Her writing has appeared in Confrontation, The Antioch Review, Simple Feast, and other publications.

Kevin Nguyen, PhD, Panelist Assistant Professor of STEM Education Sonoma State University

Kevin A. Nguyen is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education at Sonoma State University. He teaches in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, an interdisciplinary department. He is a learning scientist, and his research examines how people learn, engage, and access STEM experiences outside of school.

Kevin holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in STEM Education.

Nico Opper, Panelist Try Harder Producer

Nico Opper is an Emmy®-nominated director and producer who has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine's annual "25 New Faces of Independent Film Indiewire Magazine's 25 LGBT Filmmakers on the Rise, and DOC NYC's 40 Under 40 list of documentary talents. Their work has screened at The Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, Los Angeles Film Festival, AFI Docs and Guadalajara Int'l Film Festival. Their debut feature film Off and Running premiered at Tribeca and received the Best Documentary Award at Outfest. The WGA Award for Best Documentary Screenplay and multiple audience awards. It aired on P.O.V. and was nominated for a national Emmy.

Their episodic series THE F WORD was nominated for a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series and an IDA Award for Best Short Series and named one of the best short form series of the year by Indiewire. Opper is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a 2020 Eureka Fellowship. They're an alum of Film Independent, Tribeca Film Institute, Chicken and Egg Pictures, Point Foundation and NYU Film School.

Daily Showtimes
IndieLens Pop-Up, NorCal Public Media & Rialto Cinemas present
Wed, Apr 20
Film Facts
Running Time
MPAA Rating
Not Rated
Directed by
Debbie Lum
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