Film

Gabby Giffords Comes to Hollywood As Senate Reaches Gun Safety Deal – The Hollywood Reporter

“I’m optimistic,” Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman from Arizona, told me when I caught up with her on Tuesday in Hollywood, where she was attending an advance screening of Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s new documentary Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down just hours after an historic deal to pass limited gun safety reforms was struck in the U.S. Senate. Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 attack and still bears the scars of that terrible day, said of the path forward for that bill and other bills like it, “It will be a long, hard haul, but I’m optimistic!”

The 52-year-old, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 and resigned from it in 2012, gushed to me about Cohen and West’s documentary, which Tom Ortenberg‘s Briarcliff Entertainment will release in some 200 threaters on July 15, and which she reviews as “Amazing, amazing, amazing!”

Cohen and West, who were Oscar-nominated for the 2018 Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary feature RBG and Oscar-shortlisted for the 2021 Julia Child documentary feature Julia, think just as highly of their subject. “Getting to know Gabby, for us as filmmakers, but really more as human beings, was just an extraordinary and joyous experience,” Cohen emphasized, “and we’re so excited that viewers are going to be able to have a taste of that themselves.” Added West, “Gabby is an extraordinarily persistent, optimisitc, enthusiastic person, just like RBG and Julia. And, in addition, she has a fantastic love story with Senator Mark Kelly [the astronaut turned U.S. Senator to whom Giffords has been married since 2007], so our film about her is yet another feminist love story.”

Giffords’ indomitable spirit is front and center in the doc, and it was also on display Tuesday as she joined Cohen and West, in a movie theater lobby, in a rousing rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” during which she struggled far less to find and articulate words than she does in conversation, an unfortunate after-effect of the 2011 shotting. (West later explained, “Music is a big part of Gabby’s recovery and her life.”)

Peter Ambler, who serves as the executive director of Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, an organization which he co-founded with Giffords and Kelly in 2013, accompanied the congresswoman to Hollywood and spoke to THR on behalf of both her and him when he responded to an inquiry from this reporter about the Senate deal: “We feel really fantastic. It’s an historic achievement for the gun safety movement. Several of the policies that are being put in place are going to have a real, measurable impact, in terms of saving kids’ lives in communities and schools across the country. And I think it’s an important day for our democracy, as well, showing that Democrats and Republicans can come together around something — anything — that’s in the public’s interest. And I’m particularly proud that it’s on this issue that Gabby and I and the team at Giffords have worked so tirelessly on for the past decade.”




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