‘Knock Down the House’ connects everyday Americans with political process


Photo from truefalse.org

Matthew Burns

Director Rachel Lears inspires working class Americans in her film ‘Knock Down the House.’ The film follows four diverse democratic women that are united by their attempts to challenge the political machine. One should know that this film is not for the weary. From the opening scene with then democratic primary house candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the election day climax, ‘Knock Down the House’ showcases a roller coaster of firebrand oratory, and humanizing moments that will move one to tears.
Politicians are often associated with campaign speeches, public debates and interviews with the press. Lears successfully lifts the curtain to reveal unseen moments in the lives of the candidates, and ultimately, what motivated them to seek office. St. Louis native, Cori Bush, discussed how high gun violence rates in her district hit close to home with the death of her mother. From Nevada’s four district, Amy Vilela was driven to enter politics following the preventable death of her daughter due to a lack of healthcare coverage. Paula Jean Swearengin challenges West Virginia Democratic Senator and coal industry supporter Joe Manchin as many of her friends and family have developed cancer tied to lax mining regulations. Finally, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez aka AOC demonstrated how her diverse New York district wasn’t properly being represented by Joe Crowley because of his wealth.
The largest problem the film had was showing the other side of the story. Very rarely were the opposing, more established candidates given the opportunity to express their two pieces on the policy issues and their ability to properly represent their constituents. There was one moment during the film where AOC was debating Joe Crowley on live television. After showing AOC’s introduction and opening remarks, Joe Crowley was cut off after saying his name. Not giving Crowley a chance to speak could have been an effort to avoid beating a dead horse in a strapped for time film, but as far as the audience knows, his response could have been knowledgeable and charismatic.
‘Knock Down the House’ is an excellent look into how political movements begin. Despite the audience at True/False being generally liberal, the film works for every individual across the aisle. The battle between establishment and new faces holds up in all corners of the political compass.

It finds a way to very elegantly straddle the line between educating the public on the current state of the political system and telling a beautiful story of finding triumph in times of hardship.

Anyone who has a few hours to kill should try to catch it at the fest, or find it on Netflix.
What did you think of ‘Knock Down the House?’ Let us know in the comments below!