Documentary : #Oscars Knife Skills (2017) Short Subject

This is truly inspirational.  It is a film on redemption.  It is the only “uplifting” film in the noms for this category.

Length: 40 minutes

Release: 29 July 2017

IMDB Synopsis: What does it take to build a world-class French restaurant? What if the staff is almost entirely men and women just out of prison? What if most have never cooked or served before, and have barely two months to learn their trade? We follow the hectic launch of Edwins restaurant in Cleveland. In this improbable setting, with its mouth-watering dishes and its arcane French vocabulary, we discover the challenges of men and women finding their way after their release. We come to know three trainees intimately, as well as the restaurant’s founder, who is himself haunted by his time in jail. These men and women all have something to prove, and all struggle to launch new lives, an endeavor as pressured and perilous as the ambitious restaurant launch of which they are a part.

IMDB PageKnife Skills

Edwin’s Restaurant’s website (with his bio) can be found: HERE

In my opinion, this is the short, out of all the noms, that offered true hope.  There were setbacks for some, yes.  But this short showed a situation with a path to a positive outcome.  I thought to myself, why are there not more opportunities like this in the world.  But my brain works that idea out to its conclusion: the fewer opportunities given to former inmates, the fewer possibilities there are for one to make it through the muck and become the best version of themselves and therefore offering a role model.  Those success stories are the people who understand the plight best and then open up opportunities for others in the same situations.  Because there are limited numbers of visible role models who freed themselves of the same situations, there are fewer connections to these opportunity for others. (I feel like I am talking in circles there but in my head I know what I am saying so I will leave it).  Brandon Chrostowski (I would find upon reading up on him) later ran for mayor of Cleveland.

I watched this short on YouTube, here:

Below are spoilers, my thoughts while I watched this short:

  • There are eight different types of knife cuts.
  • Edwin’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH.  I don’t have many unities that take me to that part of Ohio but I want to go eat there and support this cause.
  • I wonder what the selection process was for the former inmates, was there a criteria?  I know that there were some with zero cooking skills but did they only accept former inmates with certain crimes committed?
  • Brandon is teaching them a life skill that will make them employable.  He is giving them personal-level tools to be viable and to make their way post-prison.  This guy is amazing.  Harsh sometimes during the film, but amazing.
  • You see him say “fuck” a lot and being harsh and then they give you a great scene where he is talking to the screen as if it is his son, who is an infant, and he is literally broken down with sobbing.
  • They brought in 120 former inmates, that number dropped to 80 who would come into the program.  By the graduation from the culinary school side of this program, only 35 were left.  Some fell back into the system.  But there was a scene where Brandon talks about going to visit those in prison and to show support to your friends.  It is understandable to offer support to those that you understand but that society might not.
  • One man, who saw his friend murdered over $1,500 and 2 ounces of weed.  He asked if anyone’s life is worth just that.
  • Brandon faced drug possession and evading arrest.  The judge gave him a second chance.
  • It is interesting to see how Brandon teaches them the business side of it – profit and loss, what you need to know on how to price as well as how to swish fancy wine and how what the cows eat affects the taste of cheese. He wants them to not only succeed on a personal level but it is obvious that he wants to succeed larger than their expectations and to become another role model.
  • The statistic the put on the screen:  In three years there have been 180 graduates from this program with only a few of them returning to jail.


Brandon’s TED Talk:


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