After receiving his diagnosis shortly after the birth of his son in 2016, Barkan was almost immediately confronted with the debilitatingly high costs of private health insurance in the United States. “The knowledge that I was dying was terrible, but dealing with my insurance company was even worse,” Barkan says in the film’s trailer via a speech-generating device. “I wanted to spend every moment I had left with [my wife] Rachael and [my son] Carl.”
“But then Congress came after our healthcare,” he says, referencing a proposed GOP tax bill in 2017 that would have meant drastic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that would endanger Barkan’s life.
In December of that year, Barkan was caught on video confronting Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake about the tax bill on a cross-country flight, and the clip went viral. Barkan has since used his newfound visibility to co-found the Be a Hero PAC and advocate for Medicare for All as well as other issues, like opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This past fall, he was invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
Not Going Quietly premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and will open in theaters on August 13th. The film is directed by Nicholas Bruckman and produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, A People’s Television Production, and Greenwich Entertainment.