After the pandemic bow, criminal justice reform document ‘The First Step’ gets a worldwide deal

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Source: Courtesy DeskPop Entertainment

The First Step

Criminal justice reform documentary and Tribeca selection The First Step featuring US political commentator Van Jones has got a theatrical release and worldwide deal with DeskPop Entertainment after premiering at Tribeca Film Festival during the pandemic.

The film follows Jones as he attempts to build bipartisan support for criminal justice reform legislation that would bring thousands of incarcerated people home early.

As they face fierce opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, the bill’s champions come face-to-face with progressive politicians like Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders, and conservative figures such as Senator Rand Paul, Kellyanne Conway and, ultimately, Donald Trump.

Brandon Kramer directed and Lance Kramer produced The First Step, which premiered in the middle of the pandemic at 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and was an official selection in more than 40 film festivals in the US and around the world.

Now with the support of theatrical distributor 8Above in partnership with a network of regional criminal justice reform groups, the film just opened theatrically in select venues in New York and Los Angeles and this month will expand into more than 25 cities.

Mat Levy negotiated the deal on behalf of DeskPop Entertainment with Lance Kramer on behalf of Meridian Hill Pictures.

“In these divisive times, this film is the rare political documentary that gives us hope as Americans that we can all work together for the greater good when we simply listen to each other on a humane level,” said Levy. “This is an evergreen film that has effectively captured a milestone moment in US history and lays out a blueprint for how to make change in a divided society”

“Seven years ago we set out to tell a nuanced and complex story about an attempt to get something accomplished to help people impacted by the broken criminal justice system amidst our country’s divisions,” said the Kramer brothers, who previously worked on Full Frame Documentary Film Festival City Of Trees.

“An incredible team banded together and poured their hearts and souls into the project to make the film a reality. We have been moved by the response to the film from audiences at festivals, universities, and prisons across the country. We’re thrilled to work with Mat Levy and the DeskPop team to expand film’s reach to an even wider audience and hopefully make a significant impact.”

Kartemquin Films’ Gordon Quinn served as consulting producer as did and Marilyn Ness and Katy Chevigny of Big Mouth Productions.

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