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This year, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada, a registered nurse in Missouri and a young bartender from New York are challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. None of these women have experience in politics, but each has had a life-changing experience of injustice. Running on their own, they might never stand a chance. But running together, as part of a rising movement, they’re finding the courage to do something extraordinary.

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. 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.

Knock Down The House is a story about power and what it takes to achieve it—both inside yourself and in the world. Behind the scenes and in the streets, we follow these four women on the roller-coaster journey of running for office, from early doubts to finding their voices before huge crowds. As these outsider candidates steel themselves for confrontations with well-funded career politicians like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and New York’s Joseph Crowley, they have a few tricks up their sleeves. Backed by a surging grassroots movement of voters hungry for change, they’re running with dozens of progressive challengers on a unified slate under the banners of Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. They have access to veteran campaign managers, a national fundraising base, and tech innovations like the most efficient peer-to-peer voter contact system in the history of US elections. And they’re forming tight friendships with each other across culture and geography. To win, Amy, Alex, Cori and Paula will have to unify their divided districts, discover courage in the midst of pain and loss, and withstand personal attacks from political machines determined to hold on to power. No matter what happens, none of them will ever be the same again.


Director, Producer, Cinematographer: Rachel Lears

Producer, Editor: Robin Blotnick

To learn more about the project or get involved, contact us using the links below.