March 10, 2016 – (New York, NY) – Meridian Hill Pictures’ first feature-length documentary CITY OF TREES — directed by Brandon Kramer and produced by Lance Kramer — will have its U.S. television premiere Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 8 p.m. on WORLD Channel (check local listings), as part of the fourth season of AMERICA REFRAMED, public media’s newest documentary series hosted by Natasha Del Toro. The film will also be available for free streaming on www.worldchannel.org starting April 20, 2016.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 8 p.m. on AMERICA REFRAMED
“CITY OF TREES is honest. It is real. It explores the messy truths embedded in all fights for environmental and social justice. The film offers a window into the nuances, hopes and fears that play out whenever well-intentioned people try to make things better in struggling urban communities. In today’s sharply-divided America, I hope that this kind of storytelling can launch more honest conversations, on both sides of the political aisle.”
– Van Jones, CNN political contributor and associate producer, CITY OF TREES
A project nearly six years in the making, CITY OF TREES is a personal story about the struggle to make social, economic and environmental change in the thick of the worst recession in a generation. With unemployment exceeding 25 percent in D.C.'s Ward 8 in 2010, nonprofit Washington Parks & People receives a $2.7 million stimulus grant to put long-term unemployed residents back to work through a new green job training program. Steve Coleman, a grassroots environmental activist who directs the organization, is tasked with using the grant to hire 150 unemployed residents from Southeast D.C. to plant several thousand trees in the city's most blighted urban parks. For Charles Holcomb, the paycheck offers him a chance to give his newborn daughter the life he never had. For Michael Samuels, the job training is a first step forward after a drug conviction marred his employment record. For James Magruder, the program offers a chance to prove that his neighborhood roots position him as an unsung leader.
CITY OF TREES offers a critical new perspective on the challenges of retraining our workforce and rebuilding the natural environments in our cities for the 21st century. What sounds like a simple goal—putting people back to work by planting trees in a blighted neighborhood—opens up a complex web of personal and community challenges. At a time when building community and helping people obtain jobs and job readiness skills are needed more than ever, CITY OF TREES thrusts viewers into the inspiring but messy world of job training and the paradoxes changemakers face in urban communities everyday.
“We could not be more honored to have Meridian Hill Pictures’ first feature film aired on America Reframed,” says CITY OF TREES producer Lance Kramer. “The mission of America Reframed — giving audiences the opportunity to understand the most pressing social issues of the present moment through the power of personal stories — represents the precise ideals the film strives for. America Reframed is the perfect platform to bring this story to national audiences and launch a meaningful dialogue on the challenges facing people living in our cities.”
“WORLD Channel is excited to present CITY OF TREES as part of America ReFramed’s new season,” says Christopher Hastings, executive producer, WORLD Channel-WGBH. “At WORLD, we continue to curate stories that document how green economies can transform America's urban centers. CITY OF TREES was so compelling and so honest, we had to bring it to audiences watching WORLD on-air and online.”
Director: Brandon Kramer
Producer: Lance Kramer
Editor: Edwin Martinez
Directors of Photography: Brandon Kramer and Ellie Walton
Original Music: Brian Satz
Consulting Editors: Gordon Quinn and Carol Dysinger
About MERIDIAN HILL PICTURES
Since 2010, Washington, DC-based documentary production company Meridian Hill Pictures (MHP) has focused on making it possible for people to share authentic, compelling and personal stories through the power of documentary. MHP’s independent films have successfully explored the intersection of demonstrated social, environmental, and economic justice issues; innovative approaches to address these concerns; and their impact on individuals and communities. MHP’s video storytelling trainings offer the tools, skills and strategies for organizations looking to advance their mission through the creation and sharing of authentic personal stories from their community. In 2014, Meridian Hill Pictures was received the DC Mayor’s Arts Award, the highest honor bestowed upon working artists in Washington, DC. MHP’s work has also been recognized at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (2016), American Conservation Film Festival (Audience Choice Award Winner - 2015), St. Louis International Film Festival (2015), DC Environmental Film Festival (2016), Yale Environmental Film Festival (2016).
About AMERICA REFRAMED
AMERICA REFRAMED is a co-production of the WORLD Channel and American Documentary, Inc. and is hosted by journalist Natasha Del Toro.
Season 4 of AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from the streets of towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. The documentaries invite audiences to reflect on topics as varied as culture, healthcare, politics, gun violence, religion and more. Several episodes feature a roundtable discussion moderated by host Natasha Del Toro with special guest commentators and filmmakers.
In 2015, AMERICA REFRAMED won a GRACIE Outstanding Series award, and was nominated for an EMMY award as well as an Independent Documentary Association award for best curated series. In its first season, AMERICA REFRAMED received five 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and one Imagen Awards nomination.
AMERICA REFRAMED Series Credits
Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Chris Hastings, Chris White
Series Producer: Carmen L. Vicencio
Host: Natasha Del Toro
WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA
AMERICA REFRAMED Co-Producers
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia arts organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation. AmDoc is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Visit AMDOC online.
The WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s nonfiction, news and documentary programming, including original content by and about diverse communities, to U.S. audiences through local public television stations and streaming online at worldchannel.org. WORLD reached 35.8 million unique viewers 18+ last year (55% adults 18-49) and over-indexes in key diversity demographics. Online, the WORLD Channel expands on broadcast topics and fuels dialogue across social media, providing opportunities for broad and diverse audience interaction.
WORLD is programmed by WGBH/Boston, in partnership with American Public Television and WNET/New York, and in association with PBS and National Educational Telecommunications Association. Funding for the WORLD Channel is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Kendeda Fund. Visit The WORLD Channel online.
Journalists and reviewers may contact Neyda Martinez at 917 656 7846 or via email at [email protected] for interviews and special requests.