The First Step Image

The First Step

By Alan Ng | June 22, 2021

The political ball begins rolling with Jones’ first meeting with Kushner, which ultimately gets him a meeting with the infamous advisor Kellyanne Conway. Jones is surprised to hear that the Trump administration is willing to listen to himself and members of the #cut50 movement. The first step brings out all the political heavyweights in Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul—and Kim Kardashian.

As one can imagine, meeting with Trump has its consequences. If you haven’t heard, he’s a divisive individual. Jones is now accused of being an “Uncle Tom”—amongst other pejoratives—for daring to be in the same room as Trump, let alone give him any credit for success. With the Republican party on board with prison reform, Democrats and Progressives want nothing to do with Jones, partly because they resent Conservatives are now perceived to have stolen their issue, and now reform is dead in the water. Is “compromise” now a forbidden word in politics?

“…honest about his feelings, the wrath he’s incurred from both sides of the aisle, and his passion for prison reform…”

The First Step is about Van Jones and what I appreciate about Jones and the documentary itself is you get to see the real Jones. I don’t always agree with Jones politically, but I admire his refusal to appear politically correct for the cameras. He’s open and honest about his feelings, the wrath he’s incurred from both sides of the aisle, and his passion for prison reform—so passionate that he takes an “end justifies the means” attitude to cross the finish line. He’s also honest about the backlash he received for misstatements and appearances he made with the “enemy.”

Aside from the “good” or the “first step” made by Jones’ efforts, The First Step is a revelation to just how divided politics is in the United States, and it’s not pretty. In the end, I got the sense that “getting things done” is no longer the goal, but winning is. Who’s at fault? Easy. It’s politicians, pundits, activists, lobbyists, and voters. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle they’re on.

The First Step works because it’s as honest about the state of government as it is passionate about doing so. It should serve as a wake call to the problems of politics that we spend so much time, money, and emotional energy into a system that only cares about getting our vote. But ultimately, documentaries about working together for change will go completely ignored.

The First Step screened at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2021 AFI DOCS.

The First Step (2021)

Directed and Written: Brandon Kramer

Starring: Van Jones, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

The First Step Image

"…Is 'compromise' now a forbidden word in politics?"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon