ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY is a riveting examination of voter suppression in the United States of America. The film weaves rich archival storytelling with the personal experiences of experts, activists, and would-be voters deprived of their rights. Current activism as well as historical insight expose what corrupted our democracy from the moment it was founded.
Every time we the people take a step toward a more just and equal nation — granting rights to the disenfranchised, from women’s suffrage to desegregation — new forces and obstacles emerge that require us to fight for the right to vote once again. Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and the first female African-American major-party gubernatorial nominee, offers an insider’s look at the patchwork of laws and barriers designed to hinder voting. Many U.S citizens remain unaware of this dangerous threat to their basic right to wield their power and raise their voices at the polls.
ALL IN explores fundamental questions: Who gets to participate in our democracy, and who is pushed aside? How can we all fight back? Voting is the cog that makes the machinery of democracy work — and if the machinery breaks for some, it will eventually break for all. This illuminating film lays out the sweeping argument that many of the problems we have seen over the past several elections are rooted in an issue that has plagued our country from its founding. From our nation’s beginning, laws were designed to suppress certain segments of the population.
Furthermore, the film illustrates that voter suppression is a nonpartisan human rights issue, which if solved, would amplify the voices of the disenfranchised and strengthen our democratic republic. This documentary will spark an urgent national conversation and forever change the way Americans understand their right to vote. Directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus and Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker Lisa Cortés, and produced by Garbus, Cortés, Academy Award-winning producer Dan Cogan, and Stacey Abrams.
The Koalition spoke to Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés about their revolutionary documentary.
In James Baldwin’’ essay Stranger in the Village he wrote: “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”
ALL IN examines the systemic roots of voter suppression, and its central role in our nation’s power playbook. Voter suppression is our history and our nightmare. Within the formation of “a more perfect union” resides an inherent contradiction: the granting of rights to the people, and the reality that only a tiny percentage of the people could vote. The franchise as originally conceived did not hold space for women, African-Americans, or Indigenous peoples.
As Stacey Abrams says in our film, “we can’t escape where we come from, but it’s our responsibility to reshape what that story looks like.” It’s a responsibility I share as a filmmaker, and as the daughter of Black people who were denied the right to participate in this democracy. Through their courage and advocacy, they created agency and opportunity for me. Activists in the US and in Latin America, my parents forever held a vision of free Black people with a seat at the table in the house they built.
When the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v Holder, I watched with horror as restrictions to voting were passed in several states just hours after the ruling, defeating my parents’ mission. Their version of voter suppression was billy clubs and dogs. Today it’s intimidation by law enforcement at the polls, and voter ID laws consciously designed to suppress votes among communities of color and college students. We cut the head off of the hydra, and two more heads appeared.
When people show up at the polls and are denied the right to vote, they often think it’s only happening to them. But voter suppression is not about individuals. It is not a thing of the past, and it deliberately targets Latinx people, Native Americans, the AAPI community, African Americans, the poor and young people. When you watch this film, whoever you are, we hope you’ll feel empowered to overcome the obstacles to voting, and stand ready for the fight that lies ahead.
ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY releases worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on September 18, 2020, just ahead of National Voter Registration Day on September 22, 2020.
Check out our full interview above.