Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Axes Sundance Trip As Federal Shutdown Ends


EXCLUSIVE: Knock Down the House will still premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, but the timely documentary won’t have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the house after all.

With the unprecedented 35-day government shutdown ending on Friday for at least three weeks, the KDTH star and one of the biggest stars in the political heavens has decided to cancel her planned trip this weekend to the Robert Redford-founded fest, I’ve learned. Ocasio-Cortez was expected to attend the January 27 debut of Knock Down The House at the spacious MARC Theatre, as Deadline revealed on January 17.

UPDATE: The freshman congresswoman from New York later confirmed today’s news online:

Following Donald Trump’s capitulation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday, travel to Sundance for Hollywood and the likes of AOC, as she increasingly is becoming known, certainly became a little easier and less stressful as airports have begun to return to normal. As other federal agencies see employees head back to their offices and finally getting paid for the first time in a month, the “Where’s Mitch?” congresswoman clearly put realpolitik over Park City.

Almost certain to be one of the biggest stars at Sundance 2019 by her very presence, AOC also was to appear at the customary afterparty on Park City’s Main Street too — which could have meant dancing, if you know what I mean.

Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the first high-profile attendee who had to drop her Sundance plans this year. Battling sickness, Oprah Winfrey yesterday had to bow out of moderating the highly publicized panel for OWN’s upcoming David Make Man series with fellow EP Michael B. Jordan.

Still, no AOC for KDTH might be even a bigger deal than no Oprah.

Sundance Film Festival

In a case of absolutely being in the right place at the right time, the Rachel Lears-directed Knock Down the House follows four women who elected to run for elected office and take down entrenched incumbents. Although West Virginia coal miner’s daughter Paula Jean Swearengin, Las Vegas businesswoman and grieving mother Amy Vilela and St. Louis registered nurse Cori Bush proved unsuccessful in their respective races, the partially Kickstarter-funded film helmed by past Emmy nominee Lears hit the jackpot when it captured twentysomething bartender Ocasio-Cortez defeating longtime D.C. insider Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary of New York’s 14th congressional district.

In competition in the U.S. Documentary category, Knock Down the House has five screenings scheduled at Sundance.

Representing parts of the Bronx and Queens, Ocasio-Cortez has proved to be a new- and old-media sensation since that June primary win and her easy November 2018 midterm victory to the House of Representatives. A savvy social media player who has taken to giving her congressional colleagues a lesson on maximizing platforms, the self-described Democratic socialist from the Bronx repeatedly has scorched Republicans and others who’ve tried to demean or attack her and her policies on the issues like economic inequity since formally taking office this month.

Although Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will not be attending, Sundance itself will go on until February 3.

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