Knock Down the House

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Knock Down the House
Knock Down the House poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed byRachel Lears
Produced by
  • Rachel Lears
  • Robin Blotnick
  • Sarah Olson
Written by
  • Rachel Lears
  • Robin Blotnick
Starring
Music byRyan Blotnick
Tyler Wood
CinematographyRachel Lears
Edited byRobin Blotnick
Production
companies
  • Jubilee Films
  • Atlas Films
  • Artemis Rising
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • January 27, 2019 (2019-01-27) (Sundance)
  • May 1, 2019 (2019-05-01) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Knock Down the House is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Rachel Lears.[1] It revolves around the primary campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin, four progressive Democrats endorsed by Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress who ran for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.[2][3]

It had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2019.[4][5] It was released on May 1, 2019, by Netflix.[6]

Plot[edit]

The film follows four female Democrats who decided to run for Congress in the 2018 United States elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia. Vilela, Bush, and Swearengin lost in the primary round, but Ocasio-Cortez won the election.[7]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The day after Donald Trump's election, Rachel Lears began working on her new documentary film.[8] She reached out to organizations such as Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats to find "charismatic female candidates who weren't career politicians, but had become newly galvanized to represent their communities."[8] The search led her to four female candidates: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia.[8] Lears raised $28,111 for the project through Kickstarter.[8]

Release[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2019.[9][10] Shortly after, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film for $10 million.[11][12] The film was also screened at the True/False Film Festival,[13] the Athena Film Festival,[14] the South by Southwest,[15] the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival,[16] and the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.[17] It was released on May 1, 2019.[18][19]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 67 reviews, with an average rating of 7.76/10.The website's critical consensus reads, "A galvanizing glimpse behind the scenes of a pivotal election, Knock Down the House should prove engrossing for viewers of all political persuasions."[20] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Kate Erbland of IndieWire gave the film a grade of B, saying: "Stylistically, the film isn't at all fussy: on-screen graphics are straightforward and informative, and Lears leaves the editorializing out of her introductory captions, though the film's score often proves manipulative during the most unnecessary of times."[22] Amy Nicholson of Variety wrote: "That Lears and co-writer Robin Blotnick made a real movie with intelligent camerawork and storytelling on a budget so small that they each pulled double duty as DP and editor, respectively, is a tribute to the energy of every woman who pledged that in 2018 they would make a difference."[23] Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter called it "a pretty extraordinary cinematic artifact."[24] Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, saying: "While this is not Frederick Wiseman-esque pure 'direct cinema' there are enough sequences that lean into that fly-on-the-wall type of film-making."[25] Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and described it as "a worthwhile reminder for American citizens of the importance of making one's voice heard."[26] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, wrote: "The fighting spirit of this female quartet blazes through every frame of this galvanizing film."[27]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Sundance Film Festival February 2, 2019 U.S. Documentary Audience Award Knock Down the House Won
Festival Favorite Award Knock Down the House Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (November 28, 2018). "Sundance Unveils Politics-Heavy Lineup Featuring Ocasio-Cortez Doc, Feinstein Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  2. ^ Croucher, Shane (November 29, 2018). "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Stars in Sundance Festival Film About 'Most Shocking Political Upset in Recent American History'". Newsweek. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  3. ^ Adams, Sam (January 29, 2019). ""I Need to Take Up Space"". Slate. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Ryan, Patrick (January 28, 2019). "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez surprises at Sundance premiere of her emotional new documentary". USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  5. ^ Palmer, Ewan (January 28, 2019). "Knock Down the House: Watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Receive Standing Ovation From Sundance Audience After Documentary Screening". Newsweek. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (April 22, 2019). "Watch: Netflix's Knock Down the House trailer is here to make politics feel a little more hopeful". Vox. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Schwab, Nikki (January 8, 2019). "Ocasio-Cortez attending Sundance to see documentary about herself". New York Post. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Desta, Yohana (June 29, 2018). "The Establishment Didn't Think Ocasio-Cortez Could Win—But This Documentary Filmmaker Did". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  9. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 28, 2018). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2019 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  10. ^ "Knock Down the House". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  11. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (January 30, 2019). "Netflix Landing Hot-Button Political Documentary 'Knock Down The House' – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  12. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 6, 2019). "Sundance Festival Favorite 'Knock Down The House' Sold For Record $10 Million; Why This Golden Age For Docus?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  13. ^ O'Falt, Chris (February 6, 2019). "True/False Film Fest Announces 2019 Lineup". IndieWire. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  14. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (February 28, 2019). "6 Film Series to Catch in N.Y.C. This Weekend". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  15. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (February 6, 2019). "SXSW Film Festival Sets 'Pet Sematary' As Closing Night Film, Unveils Slate Of Midnighters, Shorts, And More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  16. ^ O'Falt, Chris (March 11, 2019). "Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Announces Lineup — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  17. ^ Vlessing, Etan (March 5, 2019). "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Doc 'Knock Down the House' Set for 2019 Hot Docs Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  18. ^ ""Knock Down the House" - In Select Theaters and Launching Globally on Netflix on May 1". The Futon Critic. March 27, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  19. ^ Viswanath, Jake (April 22, 2019). "Netflix's 'Knock Down The House' Documentary Trailer Will Make You Cry About Politics, In A Good Way — VIDEO". Bustle. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  20. ^ "Knock Down the House". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  21. ^ "Knock Down the House". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Erbland, Kate (January 30, 2019). "'Knock Down the House' Review: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Appears in Emotional, Energetic Doc". IndieWire. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  23. ^ Nicholson, Amy (January 29, 2019). "Sundance Film Review: 'Knock Down the House'". Variety. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  24. ^ Felperin, Leslie (January 27, 2019). "'Knock Down the House': Film Review | Sundance 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  25. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (January 28, 2019). "Knock Down the House review – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doc brings down the house". The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  26. ^ Allen, Nick (May 1, 2019). "Knock Down the House". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  27. ^ Travers, Peter (April 30, 2019). "AOC Emerges as an Inspiring Example in 'Knock Down the House'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 2, 2019). "'Clemency' & Documentary 'One Child Nation' Take Top Sundance Film Festival Awards". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  29. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 5, 2019). "AOC-Fronted 'Knock Down The House' Wins Sundance's Festival Favorite Award". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2019.

External links[edit]