Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down (2022)
August 31, 2023 8:47 PM - Subscribe

This documentary tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, of her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her current work as one of the most effective activists in the battle against gun violence.

Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is a 2022 American documentary film directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West. It follows the progress Gabrielle Giffords as she recovers from the 2011 shooting. Featuring extensive footage of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-senator Mark Kelly; interviews with Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues; and exclusive access to stunning videos taken in the weeks following her near-death, this film is the story of a rising political star transformed by gun violence, and a close-up portrait of the marriage that sustains her.

Initially, the film was set to follow Gabrielle Giffords as she toured the country to support her cause, but this plan was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Kelly provided the filmmakers footage of Gifford's recovery, which he shot while she was in the hospital.

It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 12, 2022. It was released on July 15, 2022, by Briarcliff Entertainment.
posted by orange swan (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What struck me most about this movie was how incredibly positive and constructive Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly were. In this documentary, they hardly demonstrate any anger or grief over what they lost -- and they have lost so much! From the day of the shooting, the two of them were laser-focused on moving forward, on Gabby's recovery, on living their lives as fully and as well as possible, and on working to solve some of their country's problems. Mark's account of how he led a space shuttle mission the day his wife was having surgery on her skull and how he simply had to forget about that and focus on his job, and then once he'd done that, call the surgeon from outer space to see how his wife was... wow. He called it "an exercise in compartmentalization".

Gabby is very significantly disabled, with a partially paralyzed right side and a language impairment that means she can't translate her thoughts into either spoken or written words. She can barely walk, she doesn't have much use of her right arm or hand, and she speaks in fragments. She had a bright political career ahead of her and, barring some sort of medical science breakthrough or unexpected boost in her recovery, that's all gone now. But she concentrates on what she can do: being a gun control activist, supporting her husband's political career, singing, playing the French horn, riding her reclining bike (and picking up trash while she's at it), and sky diving, and she's clearly enjoying her life and accomplishing some very worthwhile things.

She was very fortunate to have the support that she needed: the excellent health care, the love of her family and friends, a stand-up man for a husband, even a hospital visit from Barack and Michelle Obama, but then she had those supports partially because she'd earned them by her hard work and intelligent choices before the shooting.

I see three societal factors that contributed to her being shot: the lack of mental health care that meant her shooter's schizophrenia went untreated and undocumented; the right wing hate machine that created and fed her shooter's obsession with her; and the lack of effective gun control that led to him being able to buy a gun and ammunition and kill six people and wound nine. She and her husband clearly understand at least the first and third factors very well and, true to their natures, did not seek the death penalty for the shooter and have dismissed him personally from their minds, choosing to focus on working towards better universal health care and better gun control.

I recommend this documentary particularly for anyone who is having trouble dealing emotionally with their own problems, because Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly are very inspiring people who lead others simply by living their own lives in the way they should be lived.
posted by orange swan at 6:02 AM on September 3, 2023 [4 favorites]

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