Thursday, January 24, 2013

The House I Live In (2012)

HDCam viewed at DocPoint, Maxim 2, Helsinki, 24 Jan 2013

Anton Vanha-Majamaa: "At the end of the 1960s Ronald Reagan, president of the United States, declares a war on drugs. A battle which is to last for decades begins, resulting in millions of prisoners and burning through billions of dollars without being able to take down the drug markets. Are the measures the right ones? Are the politicians asking the right questions?"

"With his first-hand approach, director Eugene Jarecki reviews these questions in a similar fashion to the series The Wire which unraveled the American society from the micro level up to the top thrones of power. Tying ethnicity into drug policies offers many new issues to bite on. A power game is found behind the criminalization of drugs, by which the hegemony of the white majority is attempted to be preserved. A comparison to the Holocaust is justifiable." Anton Vanha-Majamaa | translation by Asta Mykkänen

Amerikkalainen huumesota (Yle TV1, Dokumenttiprojekti, 30 Sep 2013)
Director: Eugene Jarecki
105 min, United States, 2012
Format: HDCam
Photography: Sam Cullman, Derek Hallquist
Editor: Paul Frost
Sound: Matthew Freed, Timonthy McConville, Arthur R. Jaso
Production: Eugene Jarecki, Melinda Shopsin
Additional info: Executive Producer: Brad Pitt

Wikipedia: "The House I Live In, directed by Eugene Jarecki, is a 2012 documentary film about the War on Drugs in the United States."

"As America remains embroiled in conflict overseas, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage upon future generations of Americans. In forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before."

"Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war—a definitive portrait revealing its profound human rights implications."

"The film recognizes the seriousness of drug abuse as a matter of public health, and investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have meant this symptom is most often treated as a cause for law enforcement, creating a vast machine that largely feeds on America’s poor, and especially on minority communities. Beyond simple misguided policy, the film examines how political and economic corruption have fueled the war for 40 years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures."

The name of the film comes from the song "The House I Live In" (1942, originally in the musical revue Let Freedom Sing). The short film, the Academy Award winning The House I Live In (1945), targeted against anti-semitism, was inspired by it, and in it the song was sung by Frank Sinatra. During the end credits of Eugene Jarecki's film we hear the Paul Robeson interpretation (1948) of "The House I Live In".

One of the most remarkable and thought-provoking films of the recent times in any category.

A bold, brave and devastating documentary film with an epic ambition. Drugs are terrible, but the war on drugs is equally terrible - inefficient and destructive. David Simon: "What drugs have not destroyed the war on them has".

25% of the world's prisoners are in the U.S. Prisons have become an important business.

Policemen get substantial bonuses for arrests. It is easiest to make arrests on drug crimes. Policemen can also earn money from seizures of assets.

When Nixon launched the war on drugs, two thirds of the resources were targeted to rehabilitation, to the treatment of addicts. Now the rehabilitation programs are often the first that get cut.

There is a personal framework to this documentary. The director Eugene Jarecki's family escaped Europe and family members, "we the lucky ones", were thus saved from the Holocaust. He starts to investigate his black nanny's family, following the leads of the drug tragedy and discovering how drug laws are used to destroy families and communities.

A film of a high intellectual complexity and a full command of the means of non-fiction, including interviews and archival footage. The newly shot footage looks fine, and there is naturally a compilation quality in much of the rest.

No comments: