Monday, October 25, 2010

Documentary serves up a great deal of inspiration

"Pressure Cooker" is a wonderful and charming documentary about about a high school culinary arts class in working-class Northeast Philadelphia. The movie has absolutely nothing to do with running, but its themes of discipline, hard-work, and perseverance are universal to all pursuits of life - running included. This is an inspiring piece of work.

It is difficult to describe how affecting this movie is. You come to care for each of the characters; you become totally involved in the suspense of what will happen to them after graduation, and you understand how their determination is key to their success. Consider Fatoumata, a young girl recently immigrated from Africa, who is so intent on achieving academic success that while all the other students are busy seeking out dates for the prom, she is busy getting together her recommendations for her college applications.

At the center of the documentary is Ms. Stephenson, an outspoken and tough-as-nails teacher who wants nothing more than to see all of her students succeed in making something of their lives. In their impoverished surroundings, few people have the opportunity to go to college. "I just want to get away," says one student. Ms. Stephenson wants to make that happen. Cooking is the vehicle she uses to create opportunities for these kids. If she can get them to the state culinary arts competition, her students will have a chance to compete for scholarships of up to $80,000 to attend the Culinary Institute of America.

Please seek this movie out. It is worth watching and is great entertainment for the whole family.

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