Gabby Giffords goes from lawyer to White House winner to, now, movie subject

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WASHINGTON — It’s been a good month for Gabrielle Giffords.

The former Arizona representative turnedgun reform-advocate was on hand last month when the most significant gun control legislation in decades was signed into law. She was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom last week. And Friday was the official opening of the documentary about his fight against an assassination attempt in 2011.

The documentary, “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” opens with the mass shooting at a Congressional event at a Tucson grocery store in January 2011 that left Giffords, then a Democrat representing Arizona in Congress, near death . This follows her painful recovery from the attack which left her partially paralyzed and aphasic, a speech impediment.

“For me, it’s been very important to move forward, not look back,” Giffords said. says Forbes in an interview on the documentary. “I hope others will be inspired to keep moving forward no matter what.”

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Early detection of the film at the Loft Cinema in Tucson last week was “a bit of a reunion of ex-staff…and a lot of survivors” of that shooting, said Pam Simon, a former Giffords employee who survived the attack that killed six people and injured 13, including the Giffords.

“I think the filmmakers did an outstanding job of capturing the main point of the film, which is Gabby’s tremendous resilience,” Simon said.

This was echoed by another former staff member, Joni Jones, who called the film “a beautiful representation of the spirit of Gabby and what she went through and how she overcame her inability to speak. with a loud and clear message.

For former Rep. Ron Barber, who took the Giffords’ House seat after his resignation to focus on his recovery, the case was “an emotional roller coaster”.

The film went from “very sad and really brought back some very bad memories” to “inspiring” as it showed Giffords’ recovery. And the parts were funny, because “he’s a really funny person,” said Barber, a shooting survivor who was Giffords’ district manager at the time of the attack.

Daniel Hernandez, a former intern who was credited with saving Giffords’ life, was interviewed for the documentary at his office in the Arizona State Legislature, where he sits in the House.

Hernandez, who is now running for Giffords’ former seat in Congress, said that when he heard about the film, he “was so excited to see that she was getting the recognition she deserved for being the amazing person that she was.” ‘she is and amazing things’. that she has finished.

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, current Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, in a still from the movie ‘Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down.’ (Photo courtesy of Briarcliff Entertainment)

The film also documents the relationship between Giffords and her husband, U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, who has been by her side through it all. Kelly, a Navy captain serving as an astronaut at the time of the shooting, would become Giffords’ primary caretaker even as he pursued his own political aspirations.

“Mark Kelly comes across as a true hero,” Barber said. “You see in the film what he does to push her and encourage her and to love her and be part of the recovery, it’s really very inspiring.”

After the Tucson premiere, Hernandez said, Giffords and Kelly “literally went from the film screening in Tucson to DC for the Presidential Medal of Freedom awards ceremony.” Giffords was one of 17 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 7 by President Joe Biden, in her case for advocating for gun reform and for her resilience as an American. .

“It is the honor of a lifetime to receive this award alongside such an inspiring and accomplished group of individuals,” gifford said in a statement about the medal.

Giffords was back at the White House on July 11 to celebrate the passage of the historic gun bill that Biden signed into law on June 25.

The Safer communities Law closes ‘boyfriend loophole’ for protective orders, adds $15 billion for mental health programs and school safety improvements, and requires tougher background checks on gun buyers fire under 21, among other actions. It is the first major gun control bill signed into law in 26 years.

“A better world is possible. I am often asked how I can stay optimistic during this long and hard journey. This legislation is validation of that optimism,” Giffords in A declaration after the signing of the bill.

The documentary had its DC premiere just hours after the White House celebration of the gun bill.

“It’s been a busy week,” Simon said. “It’s been an amazing week for Gabby.”

The week ended on Friday with the official opening of the documentary. Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen – who made biographical documentaries about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, civil rights activist Pauli Murray and iconic TV chef Julia Child – said they were attracted by the story of Giffords.

“We love telling stories of spectacular women and Gabby’s story really fits that bill,” Cohen said. “When you meet Gabby, she’s such an amazing, optimistic, force-of-nature person.”

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