News came out with the announcement of the government shutdown coming to a close that some additional bad news for government workers was transpiring. Well, at least one worker, in particular. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez broke the news to her salivating fanbase that, as a result of the government reopening, she would be unable to attend a screening of a documentary featuring herself, playing at the Sundance Film Festival.
Shockwaves were felt as she detailed the calamity behind her inability to attend : “Due to complications from the gov shutdown, I’m sad to say I’ll miss @jubileefilms’ premiere of Knock Down the House.” Those “complications” were — steady yourself here — that she had to go back to work. So we were supposed to be weepy that AOC had to actually do her job, and could not kite over to Park City to celebrate herself with celebrities.
“Knock Down The House” is a documentary directed by Rachel Lears, as she endeavored to follow four female candidates running for the House of Representatives prior to the 2018 midterm elections. She was putting together a possibly interesting reflection on the electoral process, told from the perspective of wide-eyed newcomers. Her feature took on a completely new dose of interest with the unlikely win by AOC.
The press materials have all of the boasting you expect from a PR release:
“At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, Knock Down the House follows these four women as they decide to fight back despite having no political experience, setting themselves on a grassroots journey that will change their lives and their country forever.”
Changing the country seems a stretch. Three of the four women profiled lost their elections, and Ocasio-Cortez, though she won, has merely become a media darling. She has yet to enact anything that approaches change, and her primary accomplishments have been producing social media videos, embarrassing herself with a stunted knowledge of civics, and angering many in her own party with her entitled antics.
Yet having the AOC brand attached, and her comprising at least 25% of the content, meant that the Lears film took on a completely new significance, and attention to “KDTH” was going to spike. The movie won an audience award at the festival, followed next by a bidding war took that took place with studio rivals. Along with Netflix the other streaming services Hulu, and Amazon were interested, as well as the studio Focus Features. In the end Netflix triumphed, dropping $10 million for the rights. This sets a new record for a documentary bought at Sundance.
The Festival is a known liberal affair with its slate of films selected, and the ensuing news coming from the 2-week event, being decidedly left-leaning. Last year’s festival saw the documentary “RBG” (produced by CNN), centered on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, playing to standing-room-only screenings. It was purchased rapidly and had a healthy run (for a documentary) this summer.
Yet “RBG”, for all of its hype, managed to gross only $14 million in total — again, that’s big for a documentary, but it puts the impact of docs in perspective, against a $10 million dollar investment. It is dubious how influential the title can be on the streaming platform, so the significance of “Knock Down This House” will be measured by time.
I give it about 2 years.