I'm very proud to kick off the nationwide theatrical release of The First Step – a new film by the Kramer Brothers – this Friday, February 17th, at DCTV's new Firehouse Cinema in New York City. Amidst increased commentary about the problems facing distribution in general (see: the Distribution Advocates report) – as well as recent posts by Brian Newman, Ted Hope, and Ira Deautchman on the struggles of theatrical and the fight to preserve and enhance its potency – I have been getting more involved in creating event and impact-focused theatrical releases where the approach to a screening contributes to a film’s singularity.
I am a big fan of cinema events as a way for people to come together as a community and to potentially affect change. Theatrical events have added value to help create a dent in the media landscape through press and other ways of calling attention to a film (more on this in a later post).
For The First Step, a film by Brandon and Lance Kramer, we strategized on how best to maximize the relationships that the filmmakers developed with partner organizations, and how to use those relationships to create a theatrical release that would help raise the profile of the film and allow partner groups to raise awareness and engage the issues the film addresses. For every theatrical screening – including when the film is programmed for a weeklong run – each screening will be presented in partnership with specific groups and leaders working on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and bipartisan policy. It’s a testament to the many people serving justice-impacted communities, as well as the film’s on-the-ground impact.
Every film we release resonates with me on a personal level – whether it’s the protagonists in the story or the issues covered – or both. With The First Step, the Kramer Brothers take an intimate look at the work of Van Jones as he works across party lines in pursuit of criminal justice reform as well as a more humane response to the addiction crisis. A bridge-builder in a time of extreme polarization, Jones’ attempts at bipartisanship take him deep into the inner workings of a divisive administration, a balkanized congress, and an inspirational cross-section of grassroots activism. Love him or can't stand him, the film depicts a fascinating and nuanced account of Jones’ advocacy, accomplishments, and shortcomings. The Kramer Brothers had incredible access and created a marvelous tapestry conveying the issues we face, and the people facing them.
The First Step will open in theaters in NYC, DC, LA, and 20+ other cities beginning February 17th.
I'll be at DCTV’s opening-night screening in NYC, and at Laemmle Royal Theater on Feb 24th in Los Angeles. Drinks on me after!
‘“The First Step,” a tactful documentary that chronicles Jones’s efforts during the Trump administration to garner bipartisan support for a bill that would modify prison and sentencing laws. Directed by Brandon Kramer, the film presents Jones as an impassioned figure who kindled animosity on both sides for his readiness to reach across the aisle in pursuit of his goals.’
- Natalia Winkelman for The New York Times
Check out the Trailer.