Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Movie with Abe: Surge

Directed by Hannah Rosenzweig and Wendy Sachs
Released September 8, 2020 (SHOxBET)

It’s a tempestuous time for politics in the United States, with parties becoming increasingly at odds and divided on almost all issues. Many career politicians who have held office for a number of years face new challengers set on upending what they see as a problematic endorsement of the status quo, and many of those candidates are women. They face an uphill battle to defeat those who have become ingrained in their communities and to combat the societal tendency to picture presidents, senators and representatives as one thing above all else: a man.

This documentary follows three candidates running for Congress in 2018, all facing a slate of Democratic primary opponents seeking to take on the Republican in office. Jana Lynne Sanchez is running to represent Texas US House District 6, which has been red for over three decades. Liz Watson is running for Indiana US House District 9, a particularly conservative area of the state. Lauren Underwood is a running for Illinois US House District 14. All three women are determined to make their mark, rallying supporters to ride a blue wave and flip their districts so that they can act on the issues that are important to them and help make Congress a bit more diverse.

This film, which is premiering on SHOxBet, the new partnership platform between Showtime and BET, follows the success of Netflix’s “Knock Down the House,” which spotlights four female Congressional candidates in that same primary election, all of whom belong to the more progressive wing of the party. Sanchez, Watson, and Underwood all bring a passion that involves liberal sentiments but places them more in line with traditional Democratic platforms that still prove controversial for where they reside. Underwood in particular receives the endorsement of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, promoting her as a face for change and leading to her becoming the youngest Black woman in Congress at age thirty-two.

Films like this and last year’s “Running with Beto” are simultaneously exciting and depressing, since they include such fervent positive energy that inevitably leads to disappointment. Chronicling unsuccessful campaigns is still very worthwhile especially since those who didn’t end up winning their elections still made significant progress in working to turn their districts blue and signaling a real chance to continue that swing in the upcoming 2020 election. The big question that is asked multiple times in this film – is this a moment or a movement – is best answered by the spirit captured here, which is that defeat doesn’t mean the end of progress. This documentary can be seen as a sharp and energizing call to a future where its subjects won’t be seen as anything close to revolutionary because of what’s been achieved.


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