When asked what it was like to have a documentary made about her life, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords enthused: “Fantastic.”
A goal of “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” is to “save lives,” Giffords said during Variety’s SXSW Studio, noting that there’s “too much guns” and “awful” shootings in today’s world.
“Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” follows the life of Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocate who served as a member of the U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District from 2007 to 2012. In 2011, she was seriously injured during a mass shooting in Tucson, which left Giffords partially paralyzed and with a language impairment, aphasia.
“Gabby’s activism on preventing gun violence has been huge — and we want people definitely to come away from the film thinking about that,” said director Julie Cohen. “But a part of Gabby’s activism that’s a little less-known is her work with Friends With Aphasia, and we hope that viewers that come to the film learn a lot about what aphasia is. … There’s a lot of work to be done for people with aphasia.”
“We were really lucky that Gabby opened up her life to us. We learned a lot that we didn’t know. And we did have a lot of fun,” added director Betsy West, who also noted that “Gabby’s a great singer,” as Giffords sings popular songs in the documentary.
In addition to “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” Cohen and West have worked together on an array of documentaries, including “RBG” and “Julia.”
“There are the opportunities to tell stories particularly about amazing women — whose stories over time have been trivialized, undertold or ignored completely,” said Cohen. “With Gabby, after the initial Zoom call that we had with her in April of 2020, we were literally texting each other during the call like, ‘Yes, we are in.’”
Hear more in the conversation above.