An Oscar®-nominated documentary about reentry, second chances, and the healing power of good food.
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?
Knife Skills follows 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 also dogged by his past. 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.
Thomas Lennon’s work in documentary film has earned him an Academy Award and three Oscar nominations. He is also the recipient of two duPont-Columbia Awards, two national Emmys, two Peabodys, and two films that premiered at Sundance. Lennon (along with editor Nick August-Perna) recently completed Sacred, which draws on the contributions of more than 40 filmmakers around the world to explore the role of prayer and ritual in daily life. He founded, with Ruby Yang, the China AIDS Media Project; their AIDS awareness messages were seen over a billion times on Chinese television and the Internet, making it probably the most far-reaching AIDS media campaign ever created.
Nick August-Perna (Editor/Co-Producer)
Nick August-Perna is a New York–based filmmaker and documentary editor. His projects have enjoyed international theatrical release, and aired on National Geographic, PBS, and HBO. Among the works he has edited, directed, or produced: Colliding Dreams, a three-hour history of Zionism that opened in theaters in March 2016; a 2012 documentary for National Geographic on the world’s polluted oceans; and The Swell Season, a 2011 feature-length documentary about Academy Award-winning musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova that won awards internationally and was released theatrically in the U.S. and overseas. Nick also edited the Emmy-nominated short film Delano Manongs: Forgotten History of the United Farmworkers.
Jonathan Rapoport (Field Producer/Second Camera)
Jonathan Rapoport is a Brooklyn-based writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Onion, Slate, National Geographic’s Glimpse, and on NPR and PBS. Jonathan received his MFA from Columbia University in 2012, where he was awarded a Hertog Fellowship to work with New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Finnegan. From 2012-2014, Jonathan was an associate producer and assistant editor at The Documentary Group. He served as the associate producer for WNET’s Sacred, an international documentary shot by more than 40 filmmakers around the world, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2016. He was the associate editor for Katie Green and Carlye Rubin’s The Family I Had, which premiered at Tribeca in 2017, and the assistant editor for Sam Green’s A Thousand Thoughts, which will premiere at Sundance in 2018. He is currently the associate producer for Sierra Pettengill’s Riotsville, an archival documentary about the U.S. Army’s riot control program in the 1960s.
Emma D. Miller (Associate Producer)
Emma D. Miller is a producer based in Los Angeles. She was associate producer of the Sundance award-winning feature documentary Unrest, which was broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens and shortlisted for an Academy Award. Previously, she was programming manager at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC, where she oversaw all submissions to the international festival and managed the film selection process. She is currently producing Mixed Status, a nonfiction coming-of-age story set on the US-Mexico border.
Justin Levy (Associate Producer)
Justin Levy is a documentary film producer. He is the co-producer of Supergirl, broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens, following screenings at film festivals worldwide including the Hamptons International Film Fest, DOC NYC, and Slamdance. He previously collaborated with director Thomas Lennon on Sacred, a feature documentary that will air on PBS in 2018 following international festival screenings and theatrical release. He worked with director Marshall Curry on 2014 Tribeca Grand Jury Prize winner Point and Shoot, released theatrically in over 75 cities and broadcast on PBS, BBC, and other networks worldwide. He is currently producing the feature documentary Well Groomed, a yearlong immersion in the visually stunning and humorous world of competitive creative dog groomers.
Robert Miller (Composer)
Robert W. Miller is a prolific composer of music for film, television, and the concert hall, with a career spanning some 23 years. His distinctive style has made its mark on well over 2,000 commercials, a growing body of some 40 film scores, as well as numerous works for the stage. Over the years his work has garnered him seven CLIO awards, two AICP awards, two Emmy “group” nominations for the Coca-Cola spot “It’s Mine” and Mercedes’ “Modern Ark,” as well as collective Emmys for Coca-Cola’s “Heist” and the ESPN 30 for 30 film Survive and Advance.
Jannat Gargi (Co-Executive Producer)
Jannat Gargi is an Emmy Award–winning co-producer of the short documentary Body Team 12 and Emmy-nominated producer of the feature documentary Circo. Gargi is currently the Head of Documentary Films for Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions overseeing feature documentaries including Sundance Award winning film STEP, Academy Award-nominated short documentary Body Team 12, Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale, Ghost Fleet, and Ballet Now (currently in production). Prior to joining Vulcan Productions in 2014, Gargi served as Vice President of Alpha Cine Labs for over a decade where she revolutionized the boutique film lab to become the premiere independent film lab in the country, working closely with emerging and award winning filmmakers from around the world.
Holly Peterson (Executive Producer)
Holly Peterson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the The Storefront Academy, an independent school in Harlem; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is also the New York Times best-selling author of four books. Her latest, a work of social satire, is titled It Happens in the Hamptons, and was published by William Morrow in May of 2017. She has also authored an entertaining book, Assouline’s Smoke & Fire: Recipes and Menus for Entertaining Outdoors, and two previous works of fiction, The Idea of Him and The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Award–winning producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering everything from global politics to trials of the century. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Town and Country, Vogue, Departures, Elle Décor, The Daily Beast, Harper’s Bazaar, and numerous other publications.
Joan Ganz Cooney (Executive Producer)
Joan Ganz Cooney is co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop (renamed Sesame Workshop in 2000) and originator of the preschool educational series Sesame Street. She is currently the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Sesame Workshop’s Board and in November 2007 introduced the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (renamed the JGC Institute) dedicated to advancing children’s learning in a digital age. Mrs. Cooney is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Director of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. She is a Lifetime Trustee of WNET/Channel 13, The New York and Presbyterian Hospital, and the Paley Center for Media. Notable awards and honorary degrees include The 1989 Daytime Emmy for Lifetime Achievement; her induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1990; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1995; and the National Endowment for the Humanities Award in 2003. Mrs. Cooney is married to New York businessman Peter G. Peterson, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce. She has five stepchildren, and presently, nine grandchildren.