Deckert Distribution Boards IDFA Title ‘Racist Trees,’ Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

Sales agent Deckert Distribution has boarded “Racist Trees,” directed by Sara Newens and Mina T. Son, and produced by Wayfarer Studios and Wild Pair Films, ahead of its world premiere in IDFA’s Frontlight strand. The feature-length documentary investigates the timely story of racial conflict in Palm Springs, uncovering an even darker racist history that few would equate with the city’s progressive image.

In Palm Springs, lies the historically Black Lawrence Crossley neighborhood, cut off from the glitz and glamour, and overshadowed by towering 60-foot Tamarisk trees. They were planted by the city authorities in the late 1950s to line the 14th fairway of a city-owned golf course, and – so some claim – to block Lawrence Crossley from the view of the white folk, and cut the neighborhood off from the rest of the city.

The trees have become the focal point of frustration and animosity for locals who see the trees as an enduring symbol of segregation. For decades, residents have been forced to put up with the tangled overgrowth from a species so invasive they have been officially categorized as a pest by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Until now.

Son comments: “This began as a passion project four years ago after reading a newspaper article about the neighborhood. And despite the current progressive landscape of this California town, we were surprised to learn that city leaders were hesitant to acknowledge the trees as a vestige of racial discrimination. After spending time with the community, we learned of the troubling legacy of systemic racism that extended even beyond these trees. It quickly became clear that this story about the erasure of a small community – consisting of only 76 homes in a far-off corner of Palm Springs – is a microcosm for the issues that people face across the United States today.”

Newens adds: “Though racial tensions in this country are a serious matter, our aim was to tackle this heavy subject with nuance, a sense of lightness, and even humor at times – in hopes of disarming our viewers in order to have more honest conversations about race, even when it is difficult and uncomfortable… but can become an important part of examining privilege.”

“This film shows the many sides to a story that made international headlines – and stresses the importance of communication and dialogue within communities,” Deckert Distribution’s CEO Liselot Verbrugge states. “Sara Newens and Mina T. Son approach this sensitive topic in an accessible, delicate and open way, with a touch of humor without losing the seriousness of the subject.”

“Racist Trees” is produced by Joanna Sokolowski, Newens and Son for Wild Pair Films, with Courtney Parker as co-executive producer. Justin Baldoni and Andrew Calof produced on behalf of Wayfarer Studios, along with Endyia Kinney-Sterns and Steve Sarowitz as executive producers.

Wayfarer Studios was co-founded by Baldoni and Sarowitz, and is led by president Jamey Heath. Recently Wayfarer announced plans to develop a live-action “Pac-Man” feature film, in addition to “The Algorithm,” a feature that will explore how social media platforms dealt with the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In 2020, Wayfarer released “Clouds,” the first feature-length movie launched on Disney+, directed by Baldoni. Upcoming projects in development include “The Senior” and “Empire Waist.” In 2021, Wayfarer entered a first-look multi-faceted partnership with Procter & Gamble spanning across film, TV, and new media, with the first project being the Webby-nominated “The Man Enough Podcast.”

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