Hello everyone! Today’s BirthMay post is a movie review of the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House.
This is my third annual BirthMay! What is BirthMay, you ask? Well I blog every day in May because it’s my birth month! I started BirthMay in 2017 and did it again in 2018 so I knew I had to do it again this year.
I actually had no idea what I would write for today for awhile. Then, I watched this movie and I just felt that I had to write about it. I know I just did a book review but I couldn’t bear to put this off!
Knock Down the House is a pretty new Netflix documentary that follows four Democratic candidates running for Congress in 2018. The four women are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez running in New York, Amy Vilela running in Nevada, Cori Bush running in Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin running in West Virginia.
Each woman had a captivating story. Ocasio-Cortez spoke of her experience in New York growing up in an area that was not as diverse as the Bronx, where her family mostly lived, and her experience losing her father as a teenager which then resulted in greater financial hardship for her family during the recession. Vilela was running because she lost her daughter due to lack of insurance, when the hospital refused to treat her. Bush was greatly affected by the Ferguson riots and wanted to fight for justice. Swearengin was fueled by a deep passion for her community’s health, which she wanted to protect from further decline due to the coal industry. All four were running against the odds, facing opponents who were incumbents with a lot of funding.
The film is not very long, a little under 90 minutes. I thought it could have been longer. Within that timespan there was a lot of insight into the candidates’ reasons for running, their political platforms, their campaigns and staff, and their outreach to their community. It was very well done and included a lot, but I found it so fascinating I wanted it to keep going because it was so inspiring to watch.
A lot of the film explored Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, likely because it had been the one to gain the most attention across the nation and it was so intense. Throughout the entire campaign Ocasio-Cortez polled behind her opponent and gained a great understanding of how difficult her path forward was. Even so, we see through the film how she’s able to gain the trust of her community and build a movement fueled by her passion for the Bronx.
Of course, since the elections are long over, we know only Ocasio-Cortez was able to win and one of the most powerful lines in the film was spoken by her. On the phone with Vilela she reminds her that “for one of us to make it through, one hundred of us have to try”. It was such a great reminder that although that election cycle was applauded for electing the most women and people of color to Congress, these groups still are largely seen as the underdogs and have to fight much harder to be serious contenders in their elections.
One of the things this film really focused on was that all four women were not career politicians. They are single moms, or have waitressing experience, or are driven by the hardships they faced in their past that they want to help other Americans avoid. It really highlighted how each citizen has the power to shape and influence the future of the country and how important it is for diverse leaders in politics. All four speak openly on their experiences that led them to run for office as well as their feelings throughout the election cycle.
After the film ended I felt compelled to see what the women were up to. Well, I’ll admit, I’ve been following Ocasio-Cortez since her campaign so I knew she was off doing great things in Congress. The other women are still activists in their communities, supporting the momentum they started, and even considering future bids for office again. I could go on and on about how amazing the film was but I think I’ll leave the story to speak for itself when you watch it (which I hope you do). This documentary is really one I would say is a “must see” and super inspirational throughout the every step of the way.
Let me know your thoughts if you’ve seen this documentary or once you have. I hope you do try it out!
Thanks for reading!
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