(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. meteorfilms.org
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 Mockingbird, Gandhiand 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.
PRINCE PAUL | Score
Beginning his career as a DJ for Stetsasonic, rapper and producer Prince Paul has lent his skills to albums by Boogie Down Productions, Gravediggaz, MC Lyte, Big 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 Automator, New 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.
DONALD NEWKIRK | Score
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 TANG, several commercials and the score for the Showtime independent film, THE BEST THIEF IN THE WORLD.
ABOUT PARTICIPANT MEDIA
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.
A Non Sequitur Production
Music Composed by
Prince Paul and Donald Newkirk
Edited and Directed by
Produced and Directed by
Chef Wilhelmina Bell
Coach Mike Capriotti
For recipes for social change go to www.takepart.com/pressurecooker
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 www.ccapinc.org.
Additional Production Sound
Marc H. Simon
Assistant to the Producer
Post Production Services
Post Production Sound Facility
C5 Inc, New York
Sound Mix Facility
Additional Mixing and Score
John M. Davis
Robert B. Coleman
Susan and Richard Grausman
Nadine Maleh and Violet Becker
Principal Richard E. Mantell
Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP)
Communities in Schools, Philadelphia
Frankford High School, Philadelphia
Greater Philadelphia Film Office
The School District of Philadelphia
Chef Phyllis Balsonu
Chef Daniel D’Angelo
Dr. Gabriel Dettola
John W. Dowling
Chef Ikimi Dubose
Emily Gardiner Herzog
Chef Michael Giletto
Chef Martin Hamann
Chef Peter Hong
Chef Thomas Krichel
Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix
Chef Masaharu Morimoto
Brian L. Perkins
Chef Joshua Sobel
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
Carbon Offsets by
Susan and Richard Grausman
The Block Grausman Fund
The Jerome Foundation
Lew and Lynn Pell
Judith and Stanley Zabar
Bear Family Foundation
Lola and Edwin Jaffe
Sugar Foods Corporation – Donald G. Tober
Nina and Tim Zagat
Ellen and Ike Kier
Joanne Ramos and David Thomas
Jane and Jim Spingarn
Alexia Brue and Ethan Klemperer
Donna and Martin Rich
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
“…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, DVDtalk.com
“Moving, inspirational and tremendously real.” Read the full story. —Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
“Engaging and ultimately emotional” Read the full story. —Michael Lerman, indiewire.com
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
“…it’s hard to beat the humanity of Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker’sPressure 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, indiewire.com
Laff ’08 Interview with Pressure Cooker Directors Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker —indiewire.com “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