Docs

Political doc “Knock Down the House” wins Sundance ’19 audience award

The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-fronted political doc Knock Down the House took home the festival favorite award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film (pictured) was selected by audience votes out of the ...
February 6, 2019

The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-fronted political doc Knock Down the House took home the festival favorite award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The film (pictured) was selected by audience votes out of the 121 features screened at the 2019 festival in Utah, including fiction films.

Knock Down the House, which premiered at Sundance ’19, follows four women running for political office around the U.S. during the 2018 midterm elections: a young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri.

Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC) was the above-mentioned bartender and is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving New York’s 14th District. She won her seat in congress after a highly publicized race, defeating 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley and replacing him as the Democratic Party nominee during the midterm election primaries. She went on the defeat her Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in the general election, becoming the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress at age 29.

She has since been a vocal proponent of explicitly socialist political reform, including medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, guaranteed family leave, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), free public college, renewable energy under a “Green New Deal” and a 70% marginal tax rate for the super rich.

Knock Down the House was already in production when AOC secured the Democratic nomination.

The film was produced by director Rachel Lears, along with Sarah Olson and Robin Blotnick.

“This film is a timely and powerful portrait of bold, risk-taking women, all from very different backgrounds and communities, and we knew it would resonate with and inspire audiences,” said John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, in a statement.

Non-fiction projects evidently had a strong impact on festival goers this year, as the festival favorite runners up were both documentary features: Ryan White‘s Ask Dr. Ruth, about American sex therapist and Holocaust survivor Ruth Westheimer; and John Chester‘s The Biggest Little Farm, about a couple attempting to live off the land and bring harmony to their lives.

Sundance also saw Netflix’s $9 million acquisition of the Ted Bundy narrative feature Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile from director Joe Berlinger, whose controversial Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes was released by the streaming giant Jan. 24.

The sale had a high profile, and was the first narrative feature buy for Netflix at the fest, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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