Freshman Congresswoman and meme queen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is headed to Netflix. The streaming service said this week that it has snapped up “Knock Down the House,” a Sundance award-winning documentary profiling the campaigns of four female progressive candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez, in the 2018 midterm election.
The documentary raised money via a Kickstarter campaign last year and it grabbed the Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, beating 121 other contenders to land the highest number of audience votes.
That acclaim and the rising star of Ocasio-Cortez looks to have made the picture a hot commodity. Deadline reports that Netflix is spending $10 million to secure the film, a price that — if true — would make it the most expensive Sundance documentary deal to date. It apparently beat off competition from NEON, Focus, Hulu and Amazon to land the production, according to Deadline.
“Knock Down the House,” produced by New York’s Jubilee Films, profiles the campaigns of Las Vegas businesswoman Amy Vilela, Saint Louis nurse Cori Bush, coal miner’s daughter Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia and New York-based Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked double shifts at restaurants to pay her family’s bills.
None of the women had previous political experience, but they gained attention after taking on heavyweight incumbents because they believed that the American system needed to change. Of the challengers, only Ocasio-Cortez won the vote and made it to Washington.
“It is a transcendent moment when skilled filmmakers are able to train their lens on a major transformation,” Lisa Nishimura, VP of Original Documentaries for Netflix, said in a statement. “With intimacy and immediacy, [filmmakers] Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnik, bring viewers to the front lines of a movement, as four women find their voice, their power and their purpose, allowing all of us to witness the promise of true democracy in action.”
This is not Netflix’s first major foray into U.S. political programming. The company signed up former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in a production deal announced last year, although the exact content that’ll come from that collaboration is not clear at this point.
“They have their eyes on film and television, fiction and non-fiction. They want to do programming, storytelling that fits in with what they did during the presidency, obviously,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said last year, although he did rule out a focus on politics.
Obama was the first guest on David Letterman’s Netflix show and he indirectly features in the company’s catalog under “Barry,” a drama that’s based on his life as a college student.