Sundance London 2012: ‘The House I Live In’ a provocative documentary about America’s Drug War

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The House I Live In
Directed by Eugene Jarecki
USA, 2012

The War On Drugs has proven to be an expensive yet ineffective effort from the US government. However hidden it may be from the general public, drug trafficking is evident wherever you go.

The House I Live In, the Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, finds director Eugene Jarecki investigating contemporary drug trafficking and what has been done to control it, through numerous interviews with officials, prisoners and family members affected by drugs. The film stems from a personal connection to Jarecki through Nannie Peters, the woman who took care of him when he was a baby, as her son tragically died from drugs.  Rather than an insight with a more personal retrospective on what the filmmaker thought about drug trafficking and its social implications, the film tends to relate more to facts and figures ranging from the sharp increase in prisons being built each year to the disproportionately high percentage of African Americans that fill them.

The amount of depth the documentary covers, from interviews with drug dealers to police officers and prison guards, is intense and incredibly compelling.  Jarecki manages to effectively cover all the bases – stats, retrospectives and politics – and tie them altogether.

Even though there isn’t a concrete conclusion as to what is happening or what can be done in the years to come, The House I Live In is insightful, thought-provoking and fills in all the blanks about the drug war in America.

Katie Wong

The 26th-29th April sees the Sundance London Film and Music festival hit the O2 Arena, which sees the festival – renowned for its programme of independent film – take place in the UK for the first time in its 34-year history.

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