In this revealing observational portrait, Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones faces a polarized society head on in an effort to reform a broken criminal justice system. Jones, known for calling Donald Trump's election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration.
Condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs, and by the left for embracing conservatives, this fraught and cinematically captured personal journey questions his integrity from all sides, forcing him to consider not only his activism but his own identity. The First Step takes us behind the scenes of these dramatic power struggles, from internal divisions within both parties, to the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities. —Luke Moody
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Brandon Kramer is a Washington, DC-based filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed City of Trees (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, PBS' America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning independent documentary series The Messy Truth. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.