By Mariah Doss, E23 Reporter

Amanda Lipitiz’s True/False film “Step “ is hilarious, heartfelt and empowering. “Step” follows the lives of three high school seniors Blessin, Tayla, and Cori as they work to get out of inner city Baltimore and into college while trying to win the state stepping competition.

The girls are a part of the founding class of their charter school and at the age of 12 founded the step team, LLOB, as a way to face their frustrations and challenges of life in a creative way. In my opinion “Step” is the most underrated film at this year’s festival. The film had so many charming qualities to it that made the viewer quickly get attached to the girls and the struggles they faced in their lives.

“Step” had an amazing quality of being extremely relatable. This is what I believe made it such great film. The girls struggled with things that any girl who has been to high school can relate to.

Blessin struggled with her grades after missing 53 days of school last year, leaving her with a 1.1 GPA. We watched as Blessin faced the very real possibility of not getting into college. This is relatable in the sense that very high school senior has had that sense of panic of “What if I don’t graduate?” We watched and breathed a sigh of relief as Blessin got her grades on track and eventually was accepted into college.

Cori’s family struggled with financial burdens during the course of her senior year. Cori took it upon herself to get good grades to be able to pay for her own schooling and so her family would not have to worry about paying for her college. This hit really close to home for me because I was in a similar situation as Cori. No one was happier than me when it was revealed that Cori got accepted into her dream school, John Hopkins, on a full tuition scholarship.

Tayla however; faced problems on smaller scale than grades and money. Tayla struggled with focusing on her goal when she started taking interest in a boy, resulting in her grades slipping. This almost caused her mother to pull her off the step team until she got her grades back up. Tayla also had an outspoken mother who loved to embarrass her. This wasn’t as much of a problem as it was an annoying quality we could all relate to.

Another part of the reason I believe “Step” was so great was due to its starring characters. We are introduced to three main girls and their families. Blessin, the unspoken leader of the step team. was a firecracker. She continuously kept me laughing and she captivated the audience while on screen.

Cori, the school’s valedictorian, maintained nothing lower than a 4.0 GPA. Cori was a character I felt like I could really relate to in the aspect of her work ethic and introverted personality.

Finally, Tayla appealed to audiences with her likeability. She was the one that every girl in the audience could relate to since we’ve all had an embarrassing parent and boy drama at some point or another. These girls stole my heart right away and had me on the edge of my seat during times of anticipation and turmoil. The girl’s personalities came through so strong on screen and that’s what made the film different from any other documentary at the festival.

My favorite scene from the movie was right before the big competition. Coach G had just surprised the girls with brand new tracksuits to wear for their competition. The girls were ecstatic about the new attire, once having put on their new clothes they proceeded to do a slow motion walk through the halls at school with rap music playing in the background.

This silly scene provided some comic relief to the otherwise tension filled time in the movie. It reminded me how important it is to make the best of every situation no matter how bad things may appear.

Although it was not prominent in the film, “Step” addressed the racial issues in America in a subtle manner. The film is set in Baltimore, very close in time with the murder of Freddie Grey. The film strongly hits on showing the city in a positive light during the time of riots and battles between the citizens and police.

Through the girls and their coach we are reminded that the people of Baltimore are not what they appear to be on TV. Through stepping, the girls lift up the idea of empowering black women. In one of their showcases the girls even have a Black Lives Matter theme during their routine stating, “Freddie Grey, it could’ve been us” with their hands raised in the air and ending the routine by saying “I’m black and I’m proud, say it loud I’m black and I’m proud!” ending with one fist raised high in the air.

Overall, “Step” was an incredible film that everyone should see. I truly have nothing bad to say about it. The film’s empowering message and vibrant characters make it one for the books. This movie is a beautiful and positive take on the racial tension in America that I would recommend to everyone.

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