Previously, The MOON has recommended quite a few films that portray the power of spirituality in politics– the trilogy by Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred, Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, and Occupy Love), for starters. The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, for another. Similarly, many of the documentaries about Native Americans, such as the excellent series 500 Nations, Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock, or Aluna, also reviewed here, portray spiritual values embodied in political action. In fact, once you start watching films through the lens of spiritual values, virtually all films can be said to demonstrate either love/spirituality in action, or the absence of it.
This month, we recommend:
Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears, tracks the values and aspirations of four women running for Congress in 2018. Their goal is not merely “flipping red to blue,” but also flipping Blue Dog to progressive. The most famous of the group is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, well-known to the country now, who begins the film as a 28-year-old waitress setting out to challenge entrenched Congressman Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for her district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. Although she needs only 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, she collects 10,000, just in case her powerful opponent, capable of calling in many political favors, challenges her signatures. This is the type of hyper-preparedness she brings to her entire campaign—with breathtaking results.
Other candidates followed include Paula Jean Swearengin, the daughter of coal miners who is now an environmental activist, running for the Senate in West Virginias; Cori Bush, an ordained minister and nurse, challenging the incumbent Democrat for the House of Representatives in St. Louis; and Amy Vilela, an angry Nevada mother whose daughter was refused hospitalization due to inadequate medical insurance—and died.
The women are clear that they are running not just as individuals, but as part of a necessary movement. “This is not about electing me to Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “This is about electing us to Congress. For one of us to make it through, 100 of us have to try.”
Knock Down the House “brought down the house” at Sundance Film Festival, where audiences voted it their favorite out of 121 feature films in contention. Festival director John Cooper explained, “This film is a timely and powerful portrait of bold, risk-taking women, all from different backgrounds and communities. We knew it would resonate with and inspire audiences.”
Knock Down the House is a Netflix original documentary and can be streamed here.