A new documentary chronicling the female leaders behind this summer’s historic climate legislation hits theaters Friday.
The women-led film To the End documents the efforts of four influential young women — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, activist Varshini Prakash, climate policy writer Rhiana Gunn-Wright and political strategist Alexandra Rojas — in their fight for better climate policy.
From street protests to the halls of Congress, the film follows the women over the course of four years as they advocate for the Green New Deal, a plan to transition the U.S. economy to 100% renewable energy in 10 years.
“It’s very much about how impossible things become possible through movements,” the film’s director, Rachel Lears, told Variety, calling the film a “coming-of-age story for a movement.”
To the End closely mirrors Lears’ 2019 film Knock Down the House, which documented the grassroots campaigns of Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin. The film, shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy, featured Ocasio-Cortez while she was working as a bartender, before being elected to Congress in 2018.
Three years later, To the End sees Ocasio-Cortez along with Prakash, Gunn-Wright and Rojas — who serve as directors for climate crisis organizations Sunrise Movement, Roosevelt Institute and Justice Democrats, respectively — combat new challenges of leadership and power as they face-off against politicians in their efforts to secure climate legislation.
Lears told Variety the film addresses “what it means to have one foot in the door of the halls of power, where you have more of a platform than you ever imagined you would have, but at the same time you don’t have enough to fully shape the agenda that you’re trying to achieve.”
At its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last January, the film’s footage ended while President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda — which rejected fossil fuels and promoted renewable energy — was being held in limbo in late 2021.
Since then, Lears has changed the ending to show President Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law in August, providing significant funding for green energy and other measures to attack climate change. This new version of the film will be shown in theaters.