The First Step

The First Step is a captivating look at the ambitious quest to pass a prison reform bill during the most contentious political time in the 21st century – the Trump era. 

The story of how the reform bill came to be is told through political personality Van Jones and his commitment to this cause. More importantly? The First Step is a celebration of bipartisanship and the victories that can be accomplished when working towards a common goal.

Yes, Van Jones is the focus. Yes, the movie can be slightly self-serving. And yes, the man has a huge pop-culture fascination with Superman. Yet he can uniquely – and, oh yeah, debatably – communicate with both sides, be it with Democratic Senator Cory Booker (from the great state of New Jersey) or by selflessly attending the Conservative far right’s CPAC event. And although The First Step is the story of passing a landmark criminal justice bill, director Brandon Kramer gets into the story on why prison reform is even needed. He catalogs the personal commitment required within the world of activism and the many, many lives affected. He shows the importance of creating meaningful conversation across the aisle. 

Title: The First Step (2021)    
Director: Brandon Kramer
Writer: Chris L Jenkins    
Studio: Meridian Hill Pictures

IMDb Plot: In a divided America, Van Jones attempts to pass a landmark criminal justice bill - and finds himself under fire from all sides.      

Joe Says: The First Step is a triumph of a documentary and proves that Americans don’t need to make the country great again; it's already great.

The First Step documents a behind-the-scenes look at the political landscape of Washington, DC; how support can be garnered by trendsetters both politically and socially; how votes can be brutally taken away (looking at you, Mitch McConnell). 

Jones is the entryway to the movie. There is perhaps a little too much attention on his personal life, but through it all, Jones shows that the struggle is real. When the film focuses on a coalition between South Central LA activists and the residents of Berkeley, WV, The First Step takes off into an emotional realm that is real and raw. These remarkable people truly show the best that Americans can be and how thoughts can align regardless of the miles of differences between environments and creeds. Tylo James of South LA might have been repulsed to be in the same room as Kelly Ann Conway and Donald Trump while Judge William Thompson might have relished the encounter. Both, however, were together united in their cause. 

That unity is so incredibly important. The First Step shows the power of individuals committed to a cause that overwrites their personal preferences. Van Jones becomes the perfect pointman here as he leads by example in this fact. He is both honored and condemned; accepted and questioned. 

The First Step, Van Jones

The First Step is a triumph of a documentary and goes beyond being a Van Jones opinion piece. This shows democracy at work and how the government can align in the name of justice and fairness. Finally, this proves that Americans don’t need to make the country great again; it’s already great.

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