NOT GOING QUIETLY
A rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan’s life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a chance encounter with powerful Senator Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Ady and a motley crew of activists ignite a once-in-a-generation movement for healthcare justice. Launching the Be A Hero campaign, Barkan travels across the country educating and empowering others to confront elected officials with emotional, personal stories intended to directly impact legislation. Continuing today to inspire others to use the time they are given and speak truth to power, Barkan continues to fight for a brighter and more just world for his son to inherit. He was featured as one of the 100 Most influential people of 2020 and has most recently been credited with pressuring President Biden to make the recent decision to waive the COVID-19 vaccine patent. Barkan is referred to as “The Most Powerful Activist in America,” because when he speaks, people listen.
A special kind of courage is required to devote your life to a cause and lead an activist movement, particularly in an era when it is easy to be cynical about politics. In “Not Going Quietly,” filmmaker Nicholas Bruckman takes us behind the scenes of the “Be a Hero” campaign for healthcare justice in America and wrestles with the question, “What are you willing to give for a cause?”
The film’s heartbeat is an intimate portrait of political activist Ady Barkan, who leads the campaign effort even while grappling with increasingly advanced stages of ALS. Barkan came to prominence in a viral video of a chance encounter with former Senator Jeff Flake on a plane, where he passionately advocated for healthcare protections for himself and others. Forcing elected representatives to confront the consequences of the laws they support would become the cornerstone strategy of the “Be a Hero” campaign. Activists hope to push past glib political narratives and force a reckoning that will change hearts and votes– or at the very least, record the interaction and make sure the hostile indifference of Congressional Members and Aides is on public display.
The film excels at telling the story of this kind of work by juxtaposing powerful political rallies– including a cameo from Bernie Sanders– with the harsh realities of ALS and heartwarming scenes with Barkan’s supportive wife and young son. In addition, moments of humor and fun with the campaign’s inner circle present another side of the fight– the deep friendships that bind people working for a cause greater than themselves.
Within the first fifteen minutes, it becomes clear why “Not Going Quietly” won the Audience Award and Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in Social Action at SXSW. This film is guaranteed to pull at all of your emotions. So what is it that moves you? I am confident this documentary has it in spades.
In Theaters on August 13, 2021
Directed by: Nicholas Bruckman (La americana)
Co-Written by: Nicholas Bruckman, Amanda Roddy
Produced by: Amanda Roddy
Executive Producer: Bradley Whitford (Get Out, “The West Wing”), Jay Duplass (“Transparent”), Mark Duplass (Creep, Safety Not Guaranteed), Mel Eslyn (The One I Love, Horse Girl), Sam Bisbee (The Truffle Hunters, Farewell Amor), Nina Tassler, Joan Boorstein, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Wendy Kelman Neu, Nicholas Bruckman, Ryder Haske
Featuring: Ady Barkan (co-founder of the Be a Hero PAC, organizer for the Center for Popular Democracy), Rachael King, Liz Jaff, Nate Smith, Tracey Corder, Ana Maria Archila, Helen Brosnan
With special appearances from:
Vice President Kamala Harris
Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Cory Booker
United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg