(USA, 2008, 99 mins)

Directed by: Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker

Producer: Jennifer Grausman 

Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann 

Co-Producer: Myna Joseph 

Editor: Mark Becker 

Music: Prince Paul, Donald Newkirk

PRESSURE COOKER highlights two semesters in the culinary arts class of Wilma Stephenson, an irreverent high school teacher in Northeast Philadelphia whose no-holds-barred teaching style helps her students earn scholarships to college. Mrs. Stephenson spells it out on the first day of school by telling the newcomers that eleven members of last year’s class earned over three-quarters of a million dollars in scholarships, a staggering amount. She offers her students her version of the American Dream: You choose a realistic goal. You work hard. You work the system. You get out of Northeast Philly.


JENNIFER GRAUSMAN | Director and Producer

Jennifer Grausman recently completed directing and producing the feature documentary ART AND CRAFT, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and was picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories for theatrical distribution. She also directed and produced the Emmy-nominated feature documentary, PRESSURE COOKER (2008). The film garnered awards from festivals across the country including a Special Jury Commendation at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Grausman also co-produced Eric Mendelsohn’s feature, 3 BACKYARDS (2009), which won Best Director at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Previously, she produced six short films, including Suzi Yoonessi’s DEAR LEMON LIMA (2007), and Joan Stein’s SOLIDARITY (2005).

In addition to making films, Grausman was Co-Director of The Screenwriters Colony in Nantucket, MA from 2010 to 2012. A graduate of the MFA film program at Columbia University, Grausman was honored with the 2005 Best Producer Award. Prior to graduate school, she was the Manager of Exhibition and Film Funding at The Museum of Modern Art. She earned her BFA in Art History at Duke University.

MARK BECKER | Director and Editor, Cinematographer

Mark Becker produces, directs, shoots and edits documentaries in New York. As a filmmaker, Becker made the acclaimed ROMANTICO, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, and received two Independent Spirit Award nominations (Best Documentary and Truer Than Fiction Award). ROMANTICO was released theatrically in 2006 by Kino International. Becker has edited several documentaries including THE LOST BOYS OF SUDAN (winner of an Independent Spirit Award) and CIRCO. He earned a Masters Degree from the Documentary Film Program at Stanford University.

JUSTIN SCHEIN | Cinematographer

A director, cinematographer and sound recordist, Justin Schein has shot over 45 films internationally for broadcasters including A&E, PBS, National Geographic, BBC, The Discovery Channel, HBO, The Learning Channel, and MTV. For PBS he recently completed RETURN TO GROUND ZERO, a one-hour look at rebuilding the World Trade Center and a companion piece to his AMERICA REBUILDS: A YEAR AT GROUND ZERO, which chronicled the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of 9/11/01. Most recently he completed work as director and cameraman on the feature documentary No Impact Man: The Documentary (2009).

LEIGH IACOBUCCI | Cinematographer

After working on educational documentary videos for The George Lucas Educational Foundation, Leigh Iacobucci was inspired to enter her own classroom, teaching a course in documentary video production at a non-profit film school in Ghana. In the fall of 2004, Leigh enrolled in Stanford University’s Documentary Film Program and completed her Master’s Degree in June 2006. During her time at Stanford, she produced, directed, shot and edited four short films. Currently, she works as a freelance shooter and assistant editor in New York City and Philadelphia.

MYNA JOSEPH | Co-Producer

Myna Joseph is a recent graduate of the MFA film program at Columbia University. Her thesis short MAN screened at Sundance, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, and Cannes. The film won the New Line Cinema Award for Best Director in the 2007 Columbia University Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short at the Florida Film Festival. Short films she’s produced have received awards from USA Film Festival, New Line Cinema, HBO, and Eastman Kodak. Most recently, she co-produced THE SECOND LINE, which won a Special Jury Prize at SXSW and showed at Sundance this year. Currently she is developing two feature-length projects.

JEFF SKOLL | Executive Producer

Jeff Skoll founded Participant Productions (now Participant Media) in January, 2004 and serves as Chairman. Skoll’s vision for Participant is to create a long term, independent, global media company to produce and finance entertainment focused on long term benefit to society. He cites classic films such as To Kill a MockingbirdGandhiand Erin Brockovich as examples. Skoll most recently served as executive producer on Participant’s films GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, NORTH COUNTRY, SYRIANA, AMERICAN GUN, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET, FAST FOOD NATION, ANGELS IN THE DUST, JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS, DARFUR NOW, THE KITE RUNNER, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, CHICAGO 10, THE VISITOR and STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.

DIANE WEYERMANN | Executive Producer

As Participant Media’s Executive Vice President, Documentary Films, Diane Weyermann is responsible for Participant Media’s documentary slate. This includes the 2008 releases, Brett Morgen’s CHICAGO 10 and Errol Morris’ STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, as well as the 2007 releases ANGELS IN THE DUST, JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS and DARFUR NOW and 2006’s Oscar® winning AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Prior to joining Participant in October 2005, Weyermann was the Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program. Before that, she was the Director of the Open Society Institute New York’s Arts and Culture Program for seven years. In addition to her work with contemporary art centers and culture programs in the Soros Foundation network, which spans over thirty countries, she launched the Soros Documentary Fund (which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund) in 1996. Since the inception of the Fund, she has been involved with the production of over three hundred documentary films from around the world.


Beginning his career as a DJ for Stetsasonic, rapper and producer Prince Paul has lent his skills to albums by Boogie Down ProductionsGravediggazMC LyteBig Daddy Kane, and 3rd Bass, among others. Paul’s big break came when he produced De La Soul‘s 3 Feet High and Rising album. In 1994, Paul returned to rapping, joining RZA and Stetsasonic member Frukwan in Gravediggaz, a side project that debuted with 6 Feet Deep. He also began working with the new elite in underground rap, recruiting the AutomatorNew Kingdom‘s Scott Harding, and Spectre for his debut solo album, 1997’s Psychoanalysis: What Is It? A Prince Among Thieves followed in 1999, and later that year Paul formed Handsome Boy Modeling School with the Automator to release the albumSo…How’s Your Girl?. His own Politics of the Business, another concept album surfaced in 2003 (a year after a second Handsome Boy Modeling School album), and was followed by 2004’s 2nd Handsome Boy Release, White People and 2005’s Itstrumental as well as The Dix’ The Art of Picking Up Women.  In 2008 Paul co-produced Baby Elephant with long-time collaborator Don Newkirk and the world renowned Bernie Worrell (of Parliament Funkadelic fame).  Most recently Paul created Baby Loves Hip Hop presents The Dino 5 with guest appearances from Chali 2na, Ladybug Mecca and Wordsworth.  Among Prince Paul’s previous film credits are the scores forPootie Tang, and The Best Thief in the World.


A former Def Jam recording artist, Donald Newkirk came onto the scene with his release Funk City.  Also known for his feature on the classic Prince Paul CD A Prince Among Thieves where he covered the classic “Mood For Love”.  However, many only know Newkirk’s voice, which resides in the collective subconscious of the hip-hop community of the world due to his infamous voice-overs on legendary hip hop albums such as De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising and 3rd Bass’s The Gas Face. Currently he produces tracks for artists such as The Black Flames, Alyson Williams and Keon Bryce. Newkirk’s affiliation with best friend and legendary hip hop producer Prince Paul has been responsible for the projects Bigger and Blacker and I Aint Never Scared (Chris Rock), music for the movie POOTIE TANGseveral commercials and the score for the Showtime independent film, THE BEST THIEF IN THE WORLD.


Participant Media is a Los Angeles-based entertainment company that focuses on socially relevant, commercially viable feature films, documentaries and television, as well as publishing and digital media. Participant Media is headed by CEO Jim Berk and was founded in 2004 by philanthropist Jeff Skoll, who serves as Chairman. Ricky Strauss is President. Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that bring to the forefront real issues that shape our lives. For each of its projects, Participant creates extensive social action and advocacy programs which provide ideas and tools to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Participant films include THE KITE RUNNER, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, DARFUR NOW, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, SYRIANA, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE and THE VISITOR.


Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. A national nonprofit, C-CAP manages the largest independent high school culinary scholarship program in the United States. Since 1990, C-CAP has awarded students $25 million in scholarships and donated $2.2 million in supplies and equipment to classrooms. In addition to awarding scholarships and providing high schools with needed products and supplies, C-CAP offers training and curriculum enrichment programs including: cooking competitions, teacher training, job shadows, job training, internships, college advising, and career guidance. C-CAP operates in seven locations including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Hampton Roads,VA, Washington, D.C. and state-wide in Arizona.

Participant Media Presents
A Non Sequitur Production

Mark Becker
Leigh Iacobucci
Justin Schein

Music Composed by

Prince Paul and Donald Newkirk

Music Supervisor


Peymon Maskan



Myna Joseph

Executive Producers


Jeff Skoll
Diane Weyermann

Edited and Directed by


Produced and Directed by


Jennifer Grausman

Wilma Stephenson
Fatoumata Dembele
Tyree Dudley
Erica Gaither
Brandon Allen
Stephanie Desir
Latoya Jacobs
Julia Raphaël
William Ray
Nayery Rodriguez-Abreu
Omar Rosado
Jerome Scott
Eugene Thomas
Warren Tinsley

Also Featuring
Chef Wilhelmina Bell
Mei Campanella
Coach Mike Capriotti
Quenetta Cooper
Tierra Cooper
Tianna Cooper-Pierce
Diassiqui Dembele
Sheila Dembele
Hasan Dudley
Ariel Gaither
Eric Gaither
Sheryl Gaither
Richard Grausman

For recipes for social change go to

The Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) works with public schools and their culinary arts teachers to prepare underserved high school students for career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. For more information visit

Creative Consultant

Richard Hankin

Consulting Producer

Eden Wurmfeld

Sound Designer

Lidia Tamplenizza

Additional Editor

Alison Shurman

Music Editor

Jennifer Dunnington

Post-Production Supervisor

Lisa Hepner

Post-Production Coordinator

Brian Batka

Associate Producer

Garret Savage

Additional Cinematography

Garret Savage
Lauren Feeney
Cameron Hickey

Production Sound

Christoph Gelfand
Brian M. Jordan
Myna Joseph

Additional Production Sound

Ramsay Davila
Todd Dayton
Tammy M. Douglas
Matt Geldof
Justin Gray
Leigh Iacobucci
Patrick Michael
Juan Nuevo
Philip Rosati
Mikhail Sterkin

Assistant Editor

Peter Haas

Apprentice Editor

Sam Lindy

Still Photography

Lauren Feeney
Jennifer Kuptsow


Barbara Karen


Marc H. Simon
Dreier, LLP
Karen Shatzkin
Shatzkin & Mayer

Assistant to the Producer

Kara Janeczko

Production Assistants

Stephanie Bunn
Becky Dilallo
Deborah Grausman
Sabrina Hawkins
Kate Lindsey
Kathryn Morrison
Edward M. Pokropski
Dasha Tolstikova

Post-Production Interns

Christina Mar
Jacob Melville
Zsa R. Ho-Sang

Post Production Services
Final Frame

Online Editor

Studio Manager

Will Cox

Kristen Molina

Post Production Sound Facility
C5 Inc, New York

Studio Manager

Foley Artist

Foley Mixer

Sound Mix Facility

Sound Mixer

Additional Mixing and Score

Doe Kim

Marko Costanzo

Al Zaleski


Ron Bochar

John M. Davis


Creative Director
Managing Director
VFX Artist/Designer

Click 3X
Steve Tozzi
Jason Mayo
Carson Hood
Tom Matheu
Gabriel Tick
Erica Gorochow

Special Thanks
Wanda Allen
Jim Berk
Albert Bichner
Robert B. Coleman
Jack Creighton
Tanya Davis
Deborah Grausman
Susan and Richard Grausman
Callum Greene
Su-Wun Harris
Jeannine Hendricks
Jeff Ivers
Berkley Johnson
Kathy Jones
John Magary
Nadine Maleh and Violet Becker
Principal Richard E. Mantell
Nate Moore
Mark Ornstein
Julio Padilla
Teto Saunders
Courtney Sexton
Buffy Shutt
Ricky Strauss
Paul Vallas
Marjorie Wuestner
Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP)
Communities in Schools, Philadelphia
Frankford High School, Philadelphia
Greater Philadelphia Film Office
The School District of Philadelphia

Daniel Baer
Chef Phyllis Balsonu
Mia Barker
Jeb Brody
Nina Chernik
William Clouthier
Chef Daniel D’Angelo
Dr. Gabriel Dettola
John W. Dowling
Chef Ikimi Dubose
Robert Edwards
Kurt Enger
Tony Felzen
Natalie Furman
Emily Gardiner Herzog
Chef Michael Giletto
Paola Gutiérrez-Ortiz
Chef Martin Hamann
Solita Hanna
Jerry Heller
Ruth Hirshey
Chef Peter Hong
Malcolm Jamieson
Tom Kalin
Bo Ketner
Chef Thomas Krichel
Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix
Matt Makar
Chef Masaharu Morimoto
I. Mirchuk
Guy Mossman
Alan Oxman
Ferne Pearlstein
George Pendle
Brian L. Perkins
Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt
Yaniv Raz
David Redmon
Ben Robbins
Lili Rubin
Julie Sexeny
Chef Joshua Sobel
Charlotte Taylor
Frederic Tcheng
Chris Teague
Gwen Wilson
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

Carbon Offsets by


Fiscal Sponsor

Fractured Atlas

Susan and Richard Grausman
The Block Grausman Fund
Barbara Slifka
The Jerome Foundation
David Lamond
Lew and Lynn Pell
Judith and Stanley Zabar
Bear Family Foundation
Lola and Edwin Jaffe
Sugar Foods Corporation – Donald G. Tober
Marilyn Loesberg
Nina and Tim Zagat
Edmund Duffy
Ellen and Ike Kier
Deborah Levy
Joanne Ramos and David Thomas
Jamie Rosen
Deborah Grausman
Jane and Jim Spingarn
Alexia Brue and Ethan Klemperer
Donna and Martin Rich
Jerusha Klemperer
Laurence Sacerdote

This film is dedicated to Richard, Susan and Deborah Grausman.

Copyright © 2008 Pressure Cooker, the Movie, LLC. All rights reserved.


Los Angeles Film Festival 2008

Aspen Film Festival 2008

Woodstock Film Festival 2008

Chicago International Film Festival 2008

Hawaii International Film Festival 2008

Starz! Denver Film Festival 2008

IDFA Amsterdam 2008

CMJ Film Festival 2008

Portland International Film Festival 2009

True/False Film Festival 2009

Philadelphia Cinefest 2009

Sarasota Film Festival 2009

Florida Film Festival 2009

Nashville Film Festival 2009

RiverRun International Film Festival 2009

DocAviv – The Tel Aviv International Film Festival 2009

Berkshire International Film Festival 2009


Emmy Nomination, Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking

Special Jury Prize, Los Angeles Film Festival

Best Documentary, Philadelphia Film Festival

Audience Award, Aspen Film Festival

Audience Award, Portland International Film Festival

Audience Award, Berkshire International Film Festival

Best Documentary (Honorable Mention), Nashville Film Festival

Editing, Honorable Mention, Woodstock Film Festival

  • See Wilma on Rachael Ray:
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“…strong and powerful, and the final scenes are unbelievably moving; I basically spent the last twenty minutes of the picture either on the verge of tears, or just over the edge.”  Read the full review »
—Jason Bailey,

“Moving, inspirational and tremendously real.”  Read the full story »
—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

“Engaging and ultimately emotional”  Read the full story »

Pressure Cooker: A Very Healthy Meal
—Hammer to Nail

Has All the Right Ingredients
—New York Post

Pressure Cooker Explores Identity, High School Culinary Class
—The Village Voice

More than one recipe for success
—Boxoffice Magazine

Uplifting Documentary Chronicles Dedicated Teacher’s Tireless Effort to Inspire Pupils
—News Blaze

“…it’s hard to beat the humanity of Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker’s Pressure Cooker…with its engaging and ultimately emotional look at the turning point in the lives of these children through the use vice of cooking.”  Read the full story »
—Michael Lerman,

Laff ’08 Interview with Pressure Cooker Directors Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker — Pressure Cooker is a completely uplifting documentary that charms in unexpected ways and teaches invaluable lessons—both culinary as well as life.”  Read the full story »
—Brit Whithey, Rocky Mountain News

“Well-paced and expertly edited, the film is especially moving as it tracks the growing affection between the students and their offbeat teacher, who, as one student says, is more of a mom than my mom.”  Read the full story »
—Sarah Coleman, Independent Magazine

“…inspiring, sweet and emotionally honest.”
—Stina Seig, Post Independent

“The filmmaking is unobtrusive, emotions arent forced, but the film is quite moving.”  Read the full story »
—Harris Smith, Negative Pleasure

“This one’s a bonafide charmer…it’s a better version of Mad Hot Ballroom, another inner city public school set documentary that charmed audiences a few years back.”
—Warren Curry, Einsider

Pressure Cooker is a dynamic film that inspires faith in what motivated students can do if given the opportunity and stimulated by a dedicated, savvy teacher.”  Read the full story »
—William Wolf, Wolf Entertainment Guide

Feel the ‘Pressure’
—S.T. VanAirsdale, The Reeler