"Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney" follows a Minneapolis school where an estimated 90 percent of students live near or below the poverty line. When the school encounters a heartbreaking setback, principal Mauri Friestleben is forced to confront the true measure of student success in a story about inspiration, heartbreak, perseverance and the power of love.
“The film offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of the passionate educators in Minneapolis Public Schools and beyond. It is our hope viewers see the film not as Lucy Laney's story—but the story of us all," said Friestleben.
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"Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney" began as a series of news stories developed by KARE 11 reporter Lindsey Seavert and photojournalist Ben Garvin. The duo spearheaded a pilot project to turn the series into a full-length documentary with support from KARE 11 and its parent company TEGNA.
The film premiered at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival in April, winning the Audience Choice: New American Visions Documentary and Best Minnesota Made Documentary. Since that time, "Love Them First" has won accolades across the country and will be featured in the prestigious 2019 Heartland International Film Festival and 2019/2020 Southern Circuit Tour.
"We are thrilled to see how many diverse communities are being moved by this film," said "Love Them First" Executive Producer and KARE 11 Director of Marketing Janeen Vogelaar. "And believe a digital distribution allows the power of this story to continue to grow and expand into new audiences.”
"Love Them First" had its broadcast premiere on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 on KARE 11 and is available to stream on LoveThemFirst.com and Prime Video. A downloadable post film discussion guide is available on LoveThemFirst.com.