Gabby Giffords won’t back down
Gabby Giffords was talkative, articulate, and naturally persuasive, until she wasn’t.
The Arizona Rep was shot in the brain during a Your Corner congresswoman event she hosted at a Tucson-area grocery store on January 8, 2011. Six people died in the incident, including Federal Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina. -Taylor Green.
This is where directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West (from the 2018 documentary RBG) resume the story. Hours after the tragedy, NPR confirmed Giffords’ death, and the nation, along with her husband, retired astronaut Senator Mark Kelly, began the grieving process.
But against all odds, Giffords underwent brain surgery and survived. Cohen and West guide viewers on Giffords’ path to recovery as she suffers from aphasia, a condition that inhibits the ability to turn thoughts into words.
Enhancing the beauty, pain and remarkable persistence of Giffords experience, Kelly took videos of his wife from the first day after her injury. The archive footage is intimate, showing Giffords in physiotherapy, speech therapy and even music therapy, where she can’t form the words ‘Happy Birthday’. Yet in a video years later, we see Giffords singing the song at her own charismatic birthday dinner, surrounded by family and friends.
Expertly woven through Giffords personal story is a comprehensive political commentary on the need for increased background checks on gun buyers. Excerpts from all the mass shootings since 2011, along with an account of former President Barack Obama’s devastation, reinforce the film’s historical and societal impact.
Gabby Giffords won’t back down is a film about grain. It’s a film about feminism, change and defying adversity. Even before the incident, Gabby Giffords’ life – her unlikely rise to politics and marriage to an astronaut – was worthy of a documentary. But this film is more than a politician’s success story: it embodies grief, dignity and above all love.
“The little things add up,” Giffords said, confidently commanding the premier’s audience. “Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we can’t do it alone. I learned that when people care about each other and work together, progress is possible. A better world is possible. Join me, let’s move forward together.
Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Tuesday, March 15, 11:45 a.m., Alamo Lamar
Friday, March 18, 1 p.m. US
Online: March 13, 9am-March 15, 9am