Exclusive video: Watch the trailer for this year’s closing film at GlobeDocs

Valerie James in 'A Fine Line.'
Restaurateur Valerie James in 'A Fine Line.' –Courtesy Joanna James

Centuries of patriarchal norms and sexist catchphrases have suggested that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Yet studies have shown that women are underrepresented in the chef profession — one 2014 study found that among the top 15 restaurant groups in the nation, there was a lower percentage of female head chefs than there were female CEOs nationwide.

That disparity is the subject of a new film that examines the challenges women face in the restaurant business and stars a local female restaurateur.

A Fine Line is a new documentary from Joanna James, whose mother, Valerie James, runs Val’s Restaurant and Lounge in Holden. The documentary set to debut in Boston this week.


In an exclusive clip for the film provided to Boston.com, Valerie is seen barking out orders in the kitchen, keeping things running smoothly while motivating the staff with friendly threats.

“Don’t screw up tonight,” James tells her staff. “‘Cuz guess what? You’re going to McDonald’s.”

The film also features interviews with other female restaurateurs, including Iron Chef star Cat Cora and Barbara Lynch, who rose from a rough upbringing in Southie to run her own restaurant empire.

A Fine Line is the closing night film for GlobeDocs, a five-day documentary film festival designed to engage, promote, and celebrate film and production talent. GlobeDocs is a part of HUBweek, a six-day citywide “festival for the future” founded and organized by The Boston Globe (which shares ownership with Boston.com), Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The film will be shown on Sunday, October 15 at 7 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. After the screening, Joanna James and Valerie James will sit for a panel discussion moderated by Janice Page, the Globe‘s deputy managing editor, arts and newsroom innovation.

Watch the full trailer below.