Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes it to Sundance after all, by Skype, for premiere of documentary about her underdog election win

(Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., piped in from Washington, D.C., smiles as patrons at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival give a standing ovation to the documentary “Knock Down the House,” which premiered Sunday at The MARC Theatre in Park City.

Park City • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez couldn’t attend the 2019 Sundance Film Festival premiere of the documentary about her underdog election win in person, but she was at the screening in spirit — and via Skype.

The Democrat who represents New York’s 14th district received rousing cheers, and the documentary a standing ovation, at the MARC Theater in Park City Sunday night. Her face was projected on the theater’s screen after the showing of “Knock Down the House,” piped in from Washington, where she opted to stay to work in the aftermath of the partial government shutdown.

“I’m still kind of recovering from the tears myself,” she said when asked about her reaction to director Rachel Lears’ movie, which follows four insurgent Democrats who challenged establishment incumbents in primaries last year. Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in an upset, was the only one of the four who won.

(Rachel Lears | courtesy of Sundance Institute) Bartender-turned-candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of four insurgent women running for office, and chronicled in Rachel Lears' "Knock Down The House," which will screen in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

The movie has a message, Ocasio-Cortez said, “for everyday people to see that, yes, this is incredibly challenging, yes, the odds are long, but yes, it’s worth it.”

Ocasio-Cortez and the other three in the film — Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia, Cori Bush in St. Louis, and Amy Vilela in Nevada — were recruited by two groups, Justice Democrats and Brave New Congress, that advocate for candidates from outside the political establishment.

Bush, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., announced at the screening that she will challenge Clay again in 2020. Swearengin, who ran against Sen. Joe Manchin in 2018, said she’s running in 2020, but she’s not sure for what office.

“The loss is also part of the movement,” Vilela said. “In all of our districts, the conversation changed. … It’s not over. We’re not done.”

“We are still in a mode where it’s all hands on deck for our democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We can do it again, better, in 2020. … What I want to do in the next two years is hold the door open so a lot more people can walk through.”

Though Ocasio-Cortez canceled her trip to Park City, a colleague in her freshman class — Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams — did attend the screening.