Fiscal Sponsorship Project

The Holly

Award-winning journalist Julian Rubinstein turns his lens on the city in which he grew up, capturing an unforgettable story from inside one of Denver’s legendary gang communities. The film follows the high profile shooting case of anti-gang activist Terrance Roberts, who shocked Denver and made national news when he shot a young gang member at his own peace rally. With rare access to key players—including active gang members, Roberts’s public defender, community leaders, elected officials, and law enforcement—the film becomes an unexpected window into the machinations behind the gang war in a historic community that was once the center of the city’s civil rights movement. 

Told in the clear eyed style of the fictional HBO series The Wire, this documentary climaxes with the dramatic attempted murder trial of Roberts, a third generation resident of the community. 

Gang violence kills more people every year than all mass shootings and military operations combined, yet this decades-long war in the shadows of America’s cities is not well understood, and is worsening. This film illuminates the issues that have enabled this invisible war to continue, and the challenges facing activists trying to stop it. 

Co Producer: Hasira Ashemu

Co Producer: Tony Hardmon

Producers: Dia Sokol Savage, Sarah Dowland

About the Director

Julian Rubinstein, who grew up in Denver, moved back to the city for this project. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and others. His first book, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber was a New York Times “Editors Choice” and a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Non Fiction. His new book, The Holly, will be published by FSG and released in conjunction with the film. 

He has been an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, from which he graduated. In April, he will begin a yearlong residency at the University of Denver. 

Genre: Social Justice, True Crime, Current Events

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Denver Film