The directors of the films Julia and RBG, Betsy West and Julie Cohen, premiered the documentary Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down at the SXSW Film Festival this past March and it now opens in theaters for a larger audience to see. It is easily one of the top ten films I viewed at the festival this year and so happy for it to be released theatrically now. It is a lovely film that shows us the great life that Gabby Giffords had before she was shot at an open-air speaking engagement, so know that the scenes of gun violence will not be easy to watch. She is resilient and optimistic, and the scenes of her rehab and the beautiful love story with her husband Mark make this film a must see.

The former member of Congress is ever mindful of her own injuries and those of people who died that day, including a judge, a little girl, and a member of her staff. The filmmakers include scenes of Gabby Giffords in the first weeks in rehab after she was shot in the head. Yes, more painful scenes to watch because the bullet went through the part of the brain that controls expressive language. It was doubtful at first about her ability to speak in the future.

Archival footage shows the viewer Giffords intelligence and determination as well as her optimism. At one point in her younger years, she returned to her hometown to run the family tire business. Giffords was on her way up in her career as an Arizona Congresswoman until gun violence hit the town where she appeared to speak with community members.

Giffords has come a long way and her husband, former astronaut and Senator Mark Kelly, documented the journey as he stood by her side, caring for her while training to go into space at the same time. The love between them is very visible throughout the film.

Tom Petty’s hit song “I Won’t Back Down” is spotlighted in the film. Perfect – given her personality. She survived and went down the road to recovery with the love and support of her husband and family. This is a powerful and inspirational film that should not be missed – especially if you are fans of the filmmakers Julia and RBG films.

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving gun violence and some disturbing images.

Source: SXSW and Briarcliff Entertainment

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