Hot Docs review: Knock Down The House

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE (Rachel Lears, U.S.). 85 minutes. Rating: NNNNN

In the year leading up to America’s 2018 midterm elections, director Lears and producer Robin Blotnick followed four progressive women mounting primary challenges to unseat Democratic congressmen: West Virginia’s Paula Jean Swearengin, Nevada’s Amy Vilela, Missouri’s Cori Bush and New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

All four women are remarkable people, with backstories that emerge slowly but with considerable impact over the course of the documentary – but Lears and Blotnick gradually shape their project around Ocasio-Cortez’s megawatt charisma.

Comfortable on camera, quick and cutting in interviews and debates and genuinely angry at sitting Congressman Joe Crowley’s casual neglect of her district while he chases status in the Democratic Caucus, it’s easy to see how she’s become an avatar of hope to progressives looking to push back against Trump’s GOP.

And even though we know how her race is going to end, Blotnick’s editing makes that moment absolutely electrifying. I cheered. You will, too. 

April 28, 6:15 pm, Isabel Bader April 29, 4 pm, Isabel Bader May 3, 6:30 pm, Fox May 4, 1 pm, Hot Docs Cinema

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