U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Stars in Sundance Festival Film About 'Most Shocking Political Upset in Recent American History'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the star of a documentary chosen for the 2019 Sundance Festival,  where it will make its world premiere early next year.

The documentary, titled Knock Down the House, made by Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick and Sarah Olson of Jubilee Films, followed Ocasio-Cortez and three other underdog Democratic working women campaigning to win House seats in the midterm elections.

The others were Amy Vilela, running in Nevada; Cori Bush, running in Missouri; and Paula Jean Swearengin, running in West Virginia. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, they lost their Democratic primaries as insurgent candidates with compelling backstories.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, juggled working in a bar with running a grassroots campaign to unseat the 10-term incumbent, Representative Joe Crowley, in New York's 14th Congressional District, which covers the borough of Queens and parts of the Bronx.

Jubilee Films followed her during her primary campaign and afterward as she went on to win the election running as a self-described democratic socialist on the Democratic ballot. 

She has since spoken out about the difficulties of working in Congress as a young Latina woman not raised around great wealth.

In the Sundance blurb for Knock Down the House, Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over Crowley was described as “the most shocking political upset in recent American history.”

“WAY back, when I 1st started my campaign, a working mom (@jubileefilms) asked if she could film me + other working women as we ran for Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after the Sundance announcement.

“I said yes, [because] people should see our fight. Two years later, our movement made history - and that working mother got into Sundance.”

Jubilee Films helped fund the documentary with a Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $28,000 in donations.  

“When her daughter died from a preventable medical condition, businesswoman Amy Vilela of Las Vegas didn't know what to do with her anger about America's broken health care system,” said the Kickstarter page.

“Bronx-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to work double shifts in a restaurant to save her family’s home from foreclosure after losing her father.

“Cori Bush, a Saint Louis nurse, was drawn into the streets when the shooting of Michael Brown brought protests and tanks into her neighborhood.

“Paula Jean Swearengin buried family and neighbors to illnesses caused by West Virginia’s coal industry—and worries her children will be next.

“All four women understood that their lives were affected by politics, but none had considered running for office themselves. Until now.”

In a news release, actor Robert Redford, president and founder of Sundance Institute, said: “Society relies on storytellers. The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. This year’s festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses the crowd gathered at La Boom night club in Queens, New York, on November 6. With her win against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Rick Loomis/Getty Images

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