Step in an inspiring documentary by first time director, Amanda Lipitz. Lipitz is normally a Broadway producer but she had a special connection to this project. The film takes place at a charter school in Baltimore, The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, and the school was started by the directors mother. When Lipitz visited the school she learned about the girl's STEP team and met the founder of the team Blessin Giraldo, one of the three young women featured in the movie. She spent several years preparing to film the senior year of the girls who began at the school in the 6th grade. What she created is an excellent "slice of life film" that is very entertaining yet politically conscious.
Beside Blessin the films other lead characters are Cori, the school's valedictorian, and Tayla, a member of the team who got started late (9th grade) and who's single mother is a prison corrections officer. The movie show's the struggles of the girls growing up in inner city Baltimore; a key city in the Black Lives Matter movement, to the simple challenge of having nothing to eat in the fridge. Still the movie is uplifting.
STEP shows us the power that comes from supporting each other, as the girls do in the STEP group, and the importance of having people that care for you and have your back, as the girls do with their parents, teachers and principal. The girls all have the goal of being the first in their family to attend college and to have 100% of the school's girls graduate. SPOILER ALERT: They succeed!
Then there's the stepping. In the entire history of the STEP group they had never won or even placed in a STEP competition. In their senior year the girls get a new coach and take things to a new level. The dancing is soul stirring! As a group the girls come together and compete in the biggest STEP event in the city. I won't spoil the ending by telling you if they won or not but, trust me, the ending will move you to tears.
Much like the movie Hidden Figures, STEP is a triumph of sisterhood and should definitely be viewed by all teenage girls. STEP will move you. It will inspire you and it will having you leaving the theater more hopeful about the future of our children than when you went in. My favorite thing about the movie, besides the dancing, is that is shows there are small pockets of hope in even the worst neighborhoods in America and that with education we can produce more.
STEP was a winner at both The AFI Film Festival and The Sundance Film Festival. Former first Lady Michelle Obama has endorsed the movie too. It's rated PG. It has a run time of 1 hour and 23 minutes and on my "Hollywood Popcorn Scale" I rate STEP a JUMBO, with extra butter (my highest possible popcorn rating).