Everyday Activist - Knock Down the House (Netflix 2019)

Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 04:00 PM

Knock Down the House (Netflix 2019)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

In many ways Knock Down the House feels more like a fictional story about underdogs in a political race to beat the more established candidates. Director, Rachel Lears, had no guarantee any one of the four women profiled were going to win. With this in mind, she focused on a character driven story, choosing the candidates who were charismatic, had good stories for choosing to run and were driven to stay in the race until the end. Capturing a win on film gave the documentary the extra boost to make the Oscar top ten list.

Despite Bernie Sanders' loss in 2016, he spawned the idea that ordinary people should represent ordinary people, rather than the rich scratching the backs of their wealthy friends. The movement called Brand New Congress accepts candidate nominations from their communities to support them through the challenges they will face going up against established candidates. Lears decided to join their meetings to see if an interesting story would emerge. Candidates undergo a vetting process and have to sign an oath which includes refusing corporate donations. From Brand New Congress “about page” the grassroots organization has plenty of political and social expertise to produce winners from the most underrepresented.

The crown jewel was the Ocasio-Cortez win. Capturing the underdog moment on film forced Lears and her husband to finish the film quickly to be ready for the 2019 awards season; instead of taking their time preparing for Sundance 2020. Ocasio-Cortez is running again for US House of Representatives. Going on the journey with Lears and these other accomplished women was exhilarating, even if I already knew the outcome.

One of my favorite moments in the film was Paula Dean Swearingen’s opponent, who wanted to talk to her about the issues she had brought up during her campaign. Undaunted, she will run for the US Senate in 2020. Cori Bush plans to run for the House of Representatives. Both women garnered plenty of votes and with the popularity of Knock the House Down, the hope is they will secure wins this time around. The fourth woman, Amy Vilela, has decided to write about her life experiences as a single mother losing her daughter to a medical condition rather than continue to pursue politics. It would be neat to see Knock Down the House 2, to see how the races shake down a second time, though I’m sure Lears would appreciate a break to spend time with her young family.

The public knows Lears as an award winning documentary filmmaker for Knock Down the House and The Hands that Feed, cinematographer and producer running Jubilee Productions. They may not know her talents extend to music, social justice advocacy and writer with a PhD in Cultural Anthropology, when she’s not chasing a toddler. I’m waiting on someone to do a documentary about her. Knock Down the House is on Netflix

Calgary Showtimes:  Knock Down the House >


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