EXCLUSIVE: PBS has acquired North American distribution rights to Charm City, the documentary directed by Marilyn Ness that premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The pic, a portrait of the citizens, police, community advocates and government officials working for positive change on the front lines of the escalating violence in Baltimore over the past three years, will get a theatrical release from PBS Distribution in the fall and premiere exclusively on the pubcaster’s Independent Lens in spring 2019.

PBSd plans a festival and community screening campaign for the film, which already has played at AFI Docs and the Human Rights Film Festival. The pubcaster’s distribution arm will handle all home entertainment, digital, educational/non-theatrical and Canadian rights. It’s the second tie-up between Charm City producer Big Mouth Productions, run by Ness and Kathy Chevigny, and Independent Lens, which aired the company’s FBI whistleblower docu 1971 in May 2015.

“Charm City is an intimate, sobering, and ultimately hopeful look at life in post-Freddie Gray Baltimore,” PBSd Head of Theatrical Distribution Erin Owens said. “Through its beautiful characters, we see the complexities and the dynamics that define so many American cities today. We deeply believe in this film’s potential to foster a dialogue between marginalized communities and law enforcement—a dialogue that is horribly overdue. And we couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our second partnership with Big Mouth Productions, whose work to tell vital, human stories we have long admired.”

Ness and Katy Chevigny produced Charm City in association with Motto Pictures and the Webber/Gilbert Fund. Dana DiCarlo, Julie Goldman, Chris Clements and Carolyn Hepburn executive produced. The deal was struck by Emily Rothschild and Lois Vossen on behalf of PBS/ITVS and Annie Roney from ro*co films on behalf of the filmmakers.