Headlined by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Knock Down the House profiles four women as they run for Congress during the 2018 election season.
New York’s freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is certainly the headliner in the documentary. The film premiered at Sundance before following to SXSW, Doc10, and other film festivals. Of the four women, only Ocasio-Cortez would be elected to serve in Washington last November. The other three women in the film are Amy Vilela, Paula Jean Swearengin, and Cori Bush. Everyone has their own reasons for why they made the decision to run.
Before running for office, Bronx native Ocasio-Cortez was working double shifts as a bartender. Without doing so, her home would have bee foreclosed. Vilela found herself being angry with the nation’s health care system. This came after losing a loved one. Bush lives in Missouri–just a few minutes away from Ferguson. As such, the registered nurse would run for office. Meanwhile, Swearengin couldn’t stand seeing what was happening to families in her home state of West Virginia. She takes filmmakers on a tour while pointing out the homes where people have cancer. Unfortunately for her, incumbent Joe Manchin would handily defeat her in the primary.
No matter the results of each race, these women should be proud of what they did. While most would lose their campaigns, it’s not the end of their public service. I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing again from them in the future.
I don’t think that anyone could have ever predicted that Ocasio-Cortez would have gotten past the primary. The odds were largely against her. This is usually the case when running against sitting incumbents. Take Joe Crowley’s power into account and the Bronx native looked like a sitting duck. As far as New York goes, winning the primary essentially means winning the district come Election Day in November. That’s how heavy the population is with Democratic voters. The insights that we get from the film go beyond the soundbites or brief snippets from social media. Social media can only do so much. Films like Knock Down the House are able to offer more insight into why these women made their runs for Congress.
The film mostly focuses in the primary election more so than the general election. As far as documentaries go, there’s nothing here that really breaks ground in the genre. What we have here is your basic political documentary. The sole exception being just how popular Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among politicos at the moment. If anything, people will use Knock Down the House as an inspiration to run for office. As a wise person once said, you must do what you feel is right, of course.
DIRECTOR: Rachel Lears
SCREENWRITERS: Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick
FEATURING: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Paula Jean Swearengin, Cori Bush