THE FIRST STEP Feature Films In Person at AFI Silver


Following the screening, watch a special conversation with director Brandon Kramer and subjects Douglas Copenhaver, Tylo James, Lonnie Jones and Van Jones moderated by Axios Justice and Race Reporter Russell Contreras.

In the face of Donald Trump’s 2016 election, CNN commentator Van Jones, devastated by the outcome, decides that, rather than “resist, resist, resist,” he will instead engage directly with the new administration. Jones, a longtime advocate for prison reform, sees an unlikely opportunity to forge an unholy relationship with Jared Kushner, who has expressed support for the issue.

Soon the plot thickens: Will the Congressional Black Caucus oppose a watered-down bill? Will Kushner be able to sway President Trump to come on board? Can Mitch McConnell be outmaneuvered? Brilliantly plotted and politically nuanced, the film reveals how the sausage gets made, explores deeper questions of “top down” leadership vs. grassroots activism and shows how, for those who choose to bridge the political divide, the personal costs can be devastating. –Ken Jacobson

Continue the conversation on DOCS Connect, with filmmaker in attendance to respond to your questions, here.

Brandon Kramer is a DC-based filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Kramer directed CITY OF TREES (Full Frame, PBS’ AMERICA REFRAMED, Netflix) and the Webby Award-winning independent series THE MESSY TRUTH WITH VAN JONES. Kramer holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.

Lance Kramer
Meridian Hill Pictures


Country: USA

Year: 2021

Director: Brandon Kramer

Producer: Lance Kramer

Executive Producers: Abigail E. Disney, Regina K. Scully, Robert F. Smith, Deon & Roxanne Taylor, Brad Buhr, Bryanna Sapp, Christina & David Arquette, Daniel S. Loeb, Jana Carter

Director of Photography: Emily Topper

Editors: Natasha Livia Mottola, Steven Golliday, Leslie Simmer, Sara Fusco

Music: Joshua Abrams

Featuring: Van Jones, Louis L. Reed, Jessica Jackson, Virgie Walker, Pete White, Tylo James, Fabian Debora, Douglas Copenhaver, Martin West, Dee Pierce, William Thompson, Rhonda Edmunds, Jared Kushner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, Kim Kardashian

Running Time (minutes): 86

Language: English

Accessibility: Closed Captions Available