“In life, anything tough is meant to be. We had to get to the point where we believed in something enough to make others believe it was possible too.” – Brandon Chrostowski
Best Documentary Short Subject
My Two Cents
This is a straight forward story about second chances as the filmmakers follow the opening of Edwin restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. Edwin is a fine dining French restaurant that is predominantly staffed – cooks and servers – by formerly incarcerated people. The restaurant, in this case, provides a 6 month training and educational program that teaches these folks about the restaurant and hospitality business.
I found one of the most endearing people in this doc to be the restaurant’s GM, Brandon Chrostowski. He’s tough on the trainees, but tough in all the right ways – he really pushes them to succeed, but he’s also no BS and holds them accountable. Why? Because he’s been other side before and this restaurant saved him – he was incarcerated and on the verge of getting caught up in the system. So he can relate to these guys (and gals). The other stories throughout the film are also watch-worthy. And props to the trainees learning to cook using French techniques – I think that’s pretty impressive.
Overall, I liked this one. It’s an uplifting, human, and sometimes funny look of a prison-to-kitchen story. I also appreciated how this one was filmed – it had sort of a fly-on-the-wall aspect to it. It felt like a documentary and honestly it could have been made into a miniseries where you could see more of the stories in greater detail. It is a topic certainly worth getting some attention as we don’t often see the rehabilitation and “second chances” side of incarceration. But it’s a noble cause – to try to help men and women from becoming repeat offenders and career criminals by teaching useful skills.
Does it win an Oscar? The director has one an Oscar for a previous documentary so it’s absolutely possible. I don’t know that the subject matter is enough of a hot topic to get a win – it’s a little lighter than the previous ones I have written about. That being said, so far all of the short docs have been good – I have one to go – so it may be anyone’s game! Which is not a bad thing!