GABBY GIFFORDS WON’T BACK DOWN – Review by Liz Whittemore

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Julie Cohen and Betsy West have done it again. These two filmmakers shine a spotlight on extraordinary women in our history. Their latest film, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, is the film we need right now, right at this exact moment.

Giffords was a rising star in Arizona politics. Sit-down interviews with her staff, family, and President Obama reveal that Gabby’s passion for politics was infectious because of her authenticity and humanity. After being shot in the head at a campaign event in 2011, her husband Mark Kelly videotaped her arduous and miraculous recovery each day. Witnessing her extraordinary progress is awe-inspiring. An average person would have given up, but not Gabby. Her story has become something citizens of the United States live with daily as mass shootings have ramped up tenfold. When Gabby left the Senate, Mark, a retired astronaut, took up the political torch in Arizona. Winning John McCain’s former seat was a huge step forward for the country. Their work is far from done as they continue to fight the uphill battle toward gun control legislation.

The film is a biopic and an extraordinary love story. Gabby’s tenacity, further fueled by Mark’s adoration, makes them an unstoppable team. The timing of the doc comes at a personally auspicious moment for Gabby. Last week, President Biden awarded the Presidental Medal Of Freedom to her for endless bravery in the face of impossible odds. Gabby Giffords is the feminist hero little girls and women idolize in history books. When life and circumstances feel overwhelming, we remember that if Gabby can do it, so can we.

EDITOR’S NOTE:Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 15, 2022.

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Liz Whittemore

Liz Whittemore is the author of AWFJ's I SCREAM YOU SCREAM blog. She is Co-Managing Editor and writes for, hosts the podcast Girls On Film and is a contributing writer for and The ArtsWireWeekly. Now New York-based, she was born and raised in northern Connecticut. She's a graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, and has performed at Disneyland and famed Hartford Children's Theater, and been a member of NYC's Boomerang Theater, Connecticut's Simsbury Summer Theater, Virginia's Offstage Theatre, where she also directed. Her film credits include Suburban Skies and Surrender. In 2008, she shot Jabberwocky, a documentary now in post-production. Liz is still a children's theatre director and choreographer. She's working on an updated adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and a series of children's books.