Baltimore is a city that is fighting to save its youth. This documentary chronicles the trials and triumphs of the Senior girls on the high school's Step Team as they prepare to be the first in their families to go to college – and the first graduating class of The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. STEP is more than just a hobby for these girls, it is the outlet that keeps them united and fighting for their goals.
Learn more about STEP:
Amanda Lipitz Director
AMANDA LIPITZ is a Tony Award Winning Broadway producer and served as Executive producer and Creator of MTV's groundbreaking series Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods. She Associate Produced "A Broadway Celebration" for PBS as part of the White House music series. Her first foray into Broadway producing was at the age of 24 with DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, starring John Lithgow. Her other producing credits include A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Tony Award), LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL (Broadway), MODERN ORTHODOX starring Jason Biggs and Molly Ringwald, TISCH ON BROADWAY starring Billy Crystal, Billy Crudup, Alec Baldwin, and Marcia Gay Harden, as well as THE PERFORMERS (Broadway) starring Cheyenne Jackson, Henry Winkler & Alicia Silverstone. Ms. Lipitz is currently represented on Broadway by the critically acclaimed, Tony Award-Winning Best Play, THE HUMANS (Pulitzer Finalist).
In 2008, Ms. Lipitz was named by Jewish Women International as one of their "10 Women to Watch", Ms. Lipitz graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Tisch School of the Arts and now serves on the Board of the school . She also serves as a Trustee on the boards of New York University and PONY (Playwrights of New York). In addition to producing, Ms. Lipitz is responsible for some of the most innovative sponsorships on Broadway, including partnerships with Tiffany & Co., PBTeen, Maybelline, and Apple.
Amanda Lipitz is known nationally for her documentary films highlighting philanthropic organizations and their impact. Ms. Lipitz has created over 30 films for organizations including Young Women's Leadership Network, CityMeals on Wheels, College Bound Initiative, The Tory Burch Foundation, Barnard College, Turnaround for Children, The Gateway School and many more. She is currently working on several projects including an original movie musical for MTV directed by Michael Mayer and recently wrapped up the off-Broadway run of BROOKLYNITE at The Vineyard, with director Michael Mayer, book by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, and Music and Lyrics by Peter Lerman. Ms. Lipitz is hard at work on her documentary feature debut, STEP. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Steven Cantor Producer
STEVEN CANTOR is the founder of Stick Figure Studios.
Steven received an Academy Award nomination for his first documentary, BLOOD TIES: THE LIFE AND WORK OF SALLY MANN, about the notorious photographer. He received an Emmy Award nomination for the HBO/Channel 4 UK documentary DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, about the rebellious tendencies of Amish youth and two more nominations for the HBO/BBC co-production of WHAT REMAINS, which revisited Sally Mann to follow the creation of her latest body of work on the nature of decay. He won an Emmy award for his PBS American Masters film WILLIE NELSON: STILL IS STILL MOVING. Last year, Steven was nominated for an Emmy for producing and directing the ESPN film CUTTHROAT, about injured NHL goalie, Clint Malarchuk. Steven produced and directed the Sundance film loudQUIETloud, about the reunion of the rock band, Pixies, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and won numerous awards on the festival circuit. It was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the ten best rock documentaries of all-time. Steven also directed the HBO film, NO ONE DIES IN LILY DALE, about a town of psychic mediums in upstate New York. As producer, Steven was nominated for two more Emmy Awards for HBO's I AM AN ANIMAL, about Ingrid Newkirk and her PETA organization, as well as two for the HBO film REPORTER: A FILM WITH NICHOLAS KRISTOF, which followed the New York Times columnist to the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of a story and produced UNRAVELED, a Showtime film which follows the disgraced lawyer Mark Dreier, whose firm collapsed under a giant fraud scheme, through his two month house arrest prior to his sentencing. At present, Steven is producing and directing DANCER, a BBC Films feature documentary about controversial ballet phenom, Sergei Polunin as well as CHASING TYSON, a feature documentary for ESPN as part of their ‘30 for 30’ series about Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. In addition, he has directed numerous national advertisements and Executive Produced over 20 television series through his Stick Figure banner.
Festivals & Awards
Sundance Film Festival
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking, Amanda Lipitz
The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women opened in 2009 with a mandate to send every student to college, despite the barriers that their home lives and community might present. Now, as the first class enters its senior year, the stakes are high to achieve that purpose. The film follows three irrepressible seniors and their “Lethal Ladies” step dance team as they navigate a nerve-wracking college application process and strive to elevate the creative outlet that keeps them united and fighting to reach their goals.
STEP hones in on the trials and triumphs of these tenacious young women, as well as their relationships with the women who champion and challenge them: their mothers, an unstoppable college counselor, and a no-nonsense step coach. These mentors are never far, doing all that they can to enable achievement, often with the odds stacked against them. This founding class is wrestling with life at the brink of their independence, always to a contagious beat that is haunting and universal.
True/False Film Fest
Blessin, Tayla, and Cori were only 12 when they first met, all newly enrolled at a Baltimore charter school. That first year, they formed a dance team, channeling their enthusiasm, frustrations, hopes, and fears into the precise rhythmic dance form known as “step.” That same year, Amanda Lipitz showed up with her camera, hoping to tell their stories. Six years later, they are seniors, each still working to attend college but also wrestling with real life along the way. And, though their step team has matured into apowerhouse, they’ve never won the prestigious Bowie State competition. Director Lipitz displays expert storytelling chops in her feature debut, delivering a deeply satisfying dance narrative while finding ways to surprise at every turn, especially as we meet each girl’s mother. Step is a joyous film, full of moments that will make you grin, make you cry, and 100 percent make you want to dance. (DW)
“Inspirational...STEP tells a story that highlights the intertwining values of hope and education, and never loses sight of the idea that much more lies ahead.”
“Essential viewing...This ebullient chronicle of a Baltimore girls step team's senior year matches a fascinating, worthy subject with unabashedly joyful filmmaking…By offering some of society’s most marginalized members — young black women — their time in the spotlight without any inkling of condescension or exploitation, Lipitz does more than just entertain or enlighten. She’s breaking down barriers in nonfiction cinema.”
“Joyous...Lipitz has tapped into a great story here of adversity, struggle and elevating achievement.”