“To the End” is a documentary film by Rachel Lears that follows the inspiring journeys of four young black and brown women in their effort to push the Democratic Party toward progressive climate action.
The film documents their relentless fight against the looming climate crisis, employing various strategies both inside and outside the system His tactics escalate as the urgency of the planet’s situation intensifies, including confronting oil executives, media commentary, mass demonstrations, and direct action.
The film introduces us to Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-driven environmental organization; Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a climate policy writer and co-author of the Green New Deal, who advocates for equity and justice in clean energy efforts; Alexandra Rojas, a member of the progressive group Justice Democrats, focused on candidate training; and the breakout star from the previous film, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
A pivotal moment in “All the Way” shows Ocasio-Cortez joining a Sunrise march and publicly supporting her action on climate change. It exemplifies the film’s goal of capturing the use of newfound power and influence to address important issues. Despite her newly gained prominence in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez aligns herself with the fighters of the Sunrise Movement.
The focus of the documentary revolves around four climate advocates: US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading Green New Deal advocate and member of the Democratic Socialists of America; Varshini Prakash, CEO and Co-Founder of the Sunrise Movement; Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats; and Rhianna Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute. Additional scenes include appearances by Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Ed Markey, and Representatives Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush.
“To the End” serves as a sequel to Lears’ previous film, “Knock Down the House,” which features four progressive women running for Congress, including AOC and Bush. The documentary opens with a powerful quote from Antonio Gramsci, highlighting the crisis between the dying old world and the fight for a new one. The film emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis through images of devastated towns and eco-catastrophes caused by global warming.
The film shows the disruptive approach of the Sunrise Movement to face the environmental crisis and those responsible for it. Aware of the dire consequences they may face in a world devastated by climate change, these young activists embody a sense of impatience and idealism as they champion the Green New Deal and fight for their very survival.
While the film benefits from learning about the end results of activists’ efforts, it also faces challenges due to its broad scope, spanning several years, the political complexities, the impact of the pandemic, and the need to portray activists’ personalities.
The documentary could have offered more in-depth interviews to extract his observations and insights. When given the chance to speak, Prakash, Gunn-Wright, Rojas and Ocasio-Cortez demonstrate their intelligence, charisma and keen understanding of the challenges ahead.
Notable moments include Gunn-Wright taking down an ExxonMobil lobbyist’s online post with tongue-in-cheek comments, her poignant reflections on poverty and her son’s future, and AOC’s insightful assessment of the mindset of her congressional colleagues. The film also captures an emotionally charged Sunrise meeting, where members express doubts about their ability to effect change, highlighting their dedication to honesty and articulating the stakes.
When “All The Way” centers its subjects and allows their voices to shine, it inspires viewers, even in the face of significant challenges.
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