Van Jones attempts to bring people together to pass a landmark criminal justice bill on prison reform— and finding himself under fire from all sides in the new documentary The First Step.
Featured in the documentary are Van Jones, Jared Kushner, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Mayor Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Louis L. Reed, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump and many more.
Directed by Brandon Kramer, The First Step, an official selection of Tribeca Film Festival, AFI Docs and many more, will open in theaters in New York on February 17 (DCTV Firehouse), Washington, D.C. on February 19 (JxJ Theater), Los Angeles on February 24 (Laemmle Royal Theater) with additional screenings in key cities in February and March 2023.
In a divided America, Van Jones controversially 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 — 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.
Watch the official trailer for The First Step.