There aren’t many positive depictions of Black folk in documentary films.
However, with the new abundance of films and television series depicting Black people from all walks of life, it seems like the tide is slowly changing in the doc world as well. This time, young Black women stand at the center of the narrative. Step, which is directed by Amanda Lipitz follows the senior year of a girl’s high school step team in Baltimore.
In that tenuous place right between adulthood and adolescence, these young women grapple with the impending next chapter of their lives while competing in some of the biggest step competitions in the country. Unlike Black boys and men who are often central characters in coming of age films (more so in scripted media versus unscripted), Black women aren’t frequently afforded the same platforms, particularly when it involved female-oriented spaces.
In Step, we meet a cast of characters which include Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon, Gari McIntyre and Paula Dofat. As these young ladies work to become some of the first in their families to attend an institution of high education, they must also contend with the political and civil unrest in their city that stemmed from the murder of 25-year old Freddie Gray whose spinal cord was snapped while he was in police custody.
For young Black women who are often erased in our society, step dancing provides another outlet to be seen and heard in a way that is not often provided especially for those in lower socioeconomic brackets.
Step premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and Fox Searchlight quickly snapped it up for $4 million dollars.
Step is set to hit theaters August 4, 2017.