Coming to theaters February 17th
The First Step follows media personality Van Jones as he works across party lines on landmark criminal justice reform and a more humane response to America’s addiction crisis. Attempting to be a bridge builder in a time of extreme polarization takes him deep into the inner workings of a divisive administration, internal debates within both parties, and the lives of frontline activists fighting for their communities.
Facing fierce opposition from both political parties in a climate where bipartisanship has become a dirty word, Jones and his team enlist the support of justice-impacted individuals, faith leaders, grassroots activists and cultural figures — including Kim Kardashian — to pass legislation that would fix some broken aspects of the justice system and bring thousands of incarcerated people home early. The bill’s champions immediately find themselves navigating a high-stakes game of political chess in Washington, D.C. Their quest brings them face-to-face with progressive champions like Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, as well as conservative figures like U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner — and ultimately, Donald Trump himself.
While trying to pass a bipartisan bill through a deeply polarized Congress, Jones is condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs — and by the left for working with conservatives. The film reveals an intimate portrait of an activist’s isolation and internal struggles, what it takes to make change in a divided nation, and everyday people in both political parties drawn into a historic fight for freedom and justice.
The First Step is an independent production of Meridian Hill Pictures (City of Trees, PBS, Netflix 2016) and Magic Labs Media (The Messy Truth, 2017 Webby Award Winner, in association with filmmakers at Kartemquin Films (Minding the Gap, Hulu, 2019 Oscar Nomination) and Big Mouth Productions (Dick Johnson Is Dead, Netflix 2020) and the editorial talent behind King in the Wilderness (HBO, Sundance 2018) and Birth of the Cool (PBS, Sundance 2019).
The film will open theatrically in New York on February 17 at the DCTV Firehouse, in Washington, D.C. on February 19 at JxJ Theater, and in Los Angeles on February 24 at Laemmle Royal Theater. Each theater will have a one week run, and there will be additional screenings in key cities in February and March 2023.
For more information, visit the The First Step website.