By sharing his craft with us, Chef Hill not only saved our lives — he gave us the wonderful gift of hope.

For 30 years, soft-spoken chef Jimmy Lee Hill has run a highly regarded culinary training program out of a prison in Coldwater, Mich., offering incarcerated men a renewed sense of purpose through the craft of fine dining — everything from foie gras to lobster. “Coldwater Kitchen” follows Chef Hill and three of his students — one facing a life sentence, another battling an opioid addiction, and a third returning to the city where he once dealt drugs — as they navigate the woes of incarceration and the difficulties of transitioning back into society.

Chef Hill employs a mix of compassion and humanity uncommon in the criminal justice system. He is more than just a culinary instructor — he’s also a mentor, a father figure, a spiritual leader, and counselor. He doesn’t just teach his students the skills they need to become fry cooks. Among other things, they learn the French mother sauces, proper service à la russe, how to pour and discuss wine and more. This is training at the highest level — the kind you’d find at any well-regarded culinary school on the outside.

“Coldwater Kitchen” is a timely film that comes as the national conversation around the criminal justice system — which touches 1 out of 3 Americans — has begun to shift, moving from punishment to habilitation and into an area where there may be rare bipartisan support for reforms.

Through the interwoven and diverse stories of the four key characters, the film subtly addresses some of the most pressing questions of our time, employing food as a prism to tell deeper stories of purpose, resilience, and redemption.