STEP is the true-life story of a girls’ high-school step team set against the background of the heart of Baltimore. These young women learn to laugh, love and thrive – on and off the stage – even when the world seems to work against them. Empowered by their teachers, teammates, counselors, coaches and families, they chase their ultimate dreams: to win a step championship and to be accepted into college.
The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women was founded in 2009 to help underserved girls, prepare for college. Their mission is to reshape the futures of its students’ lives by making it their goal to have every member of their senior class accepted to and graduate from college, many of whom will be the first in their family to do so.
This public charter school geared up to graduate its first class last year, Director, Amanda Lipitz observed three seniors, all members of its step dance team.
“I wanted to do this documentary because I wanted to break down the stereotypes that surround inner city youth.” said Lipitz I did not just want to come in and film their lives and walk away.
She had no idea that it would win the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance 2017 and that it would spark a bidding war for the movie.
“The seed started when these girls started the step team. … These girls were going to make it happen,” said Lipitz, who was accompanied by 19 young women from the step team (and 10 chaperones) to Utah for Sundance. “I couldn’t ever go without them,” she added. “It was their movie.”
Paula Dofat, Director of College Counseling and mentor has been a constant in the lives of her students. She has personally committed to making sure that each of them is accepted into college. He support does not just stop there. They have a Alumni counselor who visits the graduates several times a year on campus to make sure they are performing well. “These girls are not underprivileged, they are under-resourced. If we can get more resources in our communities then their will truly be nothing that can stop them.”
Deeply insightful and emotionally inspiring, STEP embodies the true meaning of sisterhood through a story of courageous young women worth cheering for. Thumbs up!! In Theaters August 4, 2017 Directed by: Amanda Lipitz Produced by: Amanda Lipitz, Steven Cantor Cast: Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon, Gari McIntyre, Paula Dofat