A triumphant political underdog story, Knock Down the House profiles four Democratic candidates as they run for office during the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections. Each are outsiders who lack the sharply honed savvy of the professional politicians they're running against. Each are fighting to gain momentum by building formidable grassroot movements. And each are female.
The film benefits from its uncanny sense of foresight. While not all of the profiled candidates enjoy victories on election night, each is a vital player in a blossoming political revolution. Their drive, ambition, and common folk demeanor transcend the results of a single election; they speak to a growing activism that could redefine the establishment.
Early in the film, it becomes clear that the obvious star is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old Bronx-born bartender who feels compelled to place herself on the high wire of mainstream politics to fight for her beliefs. A democratic socialistic who was an early and impassioned supporter of Bernie Sanders, she ultimately became the youngest person elected to Congress. As the filmmakers follow her every move on the campaign trail - while she shakes hands and shares her gift of comforting relatability - it's easy to see why.
The other candidates featured in the film include Paula Jean Swearengin, a single mother from West Virginia who ran against incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, Amy Vilela, a Medicare for All enthusiast who runs for a congressional seat, and Cori Bush, a nurse who campaigns for the U.S. Congress in Missouri. Political unknowns who are initially underfunded and under resourced, these women are clearly poised for a David and Goliath battle to win their states. Each were motivated into politics by the failings of their predecessors to enact meaningful change in the arenas of health care, gun violence and the environment.
Knock Down the House shows viewers where their passions originated, their struggles to maintain sanity in a vicious election cycle, and the real-life consequences their families have suffered from their broken government. But it also revives faith in the power and promise of a political system that should and can be a function of the people and for the people.
Directed by: Rachel Lears