The Holly

THE HOLLY: a documentary feature (TRT: 102 mins); Genre: True Crime, Social Justice

Rights: All rights available, including to the main character whose life rights are with the award-winning book, The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American The neighborhood was published in 2021 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Executive Producers: Academy Award-winner Adam McKay (DON’T LOOK UP, THE BIG SHORT); Sundance Fellow Damon Davis (WHOSE STREETS); historian, curator, and creative director Lana Garland; award-winning DP Tony Hardmon (CRIPS AND BLOODS: MADE IN AMERICA).


Director: Award-winning journalist Julian Rubinstein (Ballad of the Whiskey Robber; The Holly). For the director’s statement, see:

Cast: Terrance Roberts, a former gang member turned activist; co-leader of the Justice for Elijah McClain Movement; current candidate for mayor of Denver.

“Civil Rights Activist Terrance Roberts will run for Mayor of Denver.”

Film and Book Websites: and

“I was completely blown away after seeing the rough cut of The Holly. From income inequality, race, gun violence, and corruption, this film is the macro of America in the micro.”—Adam McKay to

“Roberts is running for Denver mayor, giving “The Holly” the feel of an up-to-the-minute civic primer as much as riveting, true-life drama.”—John Wenzel, Denver Post

“It is, in its way, Denver’s very own version of “Bonfire of the Vanities,” combining elements of economic oppression and gentrification against institutional power, racism, police and government corruption, and a reformed anti-hero who is now running to be the next mayor of Denver.”—John Moore, Denver Gazette

“A riveting look at metro policing, gang violence and politics.”—Aurora Sentinel


Terrance Roberts

Terrance Roberts in THE HOLLY

Based on eight years of reporting inside a gang community, THE HOLLY investigates a gang shooting case in Denver that was covered by the New York Times and voluminously by the local media to discover an “explosive” (Axios) story that changed a historic neighborhood.

  • Winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at 2022 Telluride
    Mountainfilm, film’s premiere

This film contains numerous on-camera revelations that are poised to become news stories and hold keys to understanding the rise in youth and gang violence across the country:

  • Roberts was working for America’s premiere anti-gang and anti-gun program, Project Safe Neighborhoods. The film has intimate access to the “anti-gang” workers who replace Roberts in the federal effort. They prove themselves not only to be active gang members, but one is caught selling drugs out of the office—and turns out to be an integral part of the plot to attack Roberts, as well as an informant working for law enforcement.
  • The film uncovers in verite that the anonymous sources police—and the media—relied on to prosecute the case against Roberts were gang informants who were part of the plot to attack Roberts.
  •  The corruption in this high profile and controversial federal program—including misconduct and misuse of gang informants and coverups of critical evidence—is an “explosive” (Axios) news story, backed up by documents and on-camera interviews. It is sure to gain headlines.
  • Film climaxes with a dramatic trial featuring Roberts facing life in prison.
  • THE HOLLY shows the relationship between gentrification and violence. Roberts was the face of the high profile redevelopment of his historic neighborhood. He was attacked after he became outspoken about what he saw as racist tactics by white developers.
  • At a time when youth and gang violence is sharply rising and President Biden is pledging $10 billion for community violence prevention efforts, THE HOLLY holds a key to understanding what is going wrong and how to stop it.
  • At a time when Black activists say they are being targeted, THE HOLLY features the most dramatic on-camera example to date.

PARTNERS AND FUNDERS: Doc Society, Catapult Film Fund, The Edit Center, IFP, Colorado Film and TV office, Denver Film Society, University of Denver, Hyperobject Industries.

 Team members of THE HOLLY and cast Terrance Roberts

L to R: Team members of THE HOLLY and cast Terrance Roberts (far right) before the premiere; The Holly book.

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