By Risa Nye
For those whose memories of high school days are a bit clouded and sentimental, TRY HARDER!, Debbie Lum and Nico Opper’s documentary about students at San Francisco’s academic powerhouse, Lowell High, will be an eye-opener. Parents of toddlers who are already buying Ivy League sweatshirts in size 3T might do well to observe what happens when kids who try hard sometimes learn that they need to re-define what success means in the college admission process.
While this film is about the students, it is also about the way support from caring teachers, parents, counselors, and peers has an enormous impact on the levels of stress these kids experience while trying to do all the things necessary to be competitive in a process with nearly impossible odds. As an example, the kids hear that Stanford’s acceptance rate is around 4%. They already know how hard it is, but some will try and beat the odds anyway.
By C.J. Hirschfield
At the beginning of the pandemic, TIGER KING was the documentary everyone was watching. It focused on an eccentric and unethical schemer/scammer driven by greed–truly a despicable character. Kind of like the president we were forced to endure on screen at the same time.
Maybe now we’re ready to see more documentaries like the recently-released FAUCI, and now LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES, which turn the camera onto people who show up with passion, talent and humility every day– and not just for the money. After a film festival tour and theatrical release the film is now on Netflix.
Music multi-hyphenate Ben Fong Torres’ sister Shirley Fong-Torres was a chef, writer and created food tours of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Shirley’s easy—and classic—recipe for congee (rice porridge) is one of C.J. Hirschfield’s all-time favorites; perfect for cold nights.