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PAFF 2013 Review: Eugene Jarecki’s 'The House That I Live In'

Shadow and Act By Masha Dowell | Shadow and Act February 18, 2013 at 2:29PM

PAFF 2013 Review: Eugene Jarecki’s 'The House That I Live In'
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"The House I Live In"
"The House I Live In"

My heart is filled with deep compassion for America’s war on drugs after reviewing Eugene Jarecki’s documentary, “The House That I Live In.” The film unearths the harsh realities of the drug war going on in America, the racism involved with the war, and the war’s origin.

When I was in High School I was the President of my schools chapter of D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. I was a teenager and I was pretty active with the club. Fast forward to today, and I could not tell you any statistics about America’s war on drugs. I am so removed from that way of life, that I am ignorant to its indirect harm on all humans.

This film accepted the fact that many people like me are ignorant to today’s drug statistics in America, and it provided a look at the racist history associated with the drug world. The film revealed that 15% of the world’s population is on drugs; however, 25% of Americans abuse drugs.

The beginning of the film deeply explores the reasons behind drug use (From the Director’s point of view). The film explains that life survival and poverty were probably the greatest reasons for drug use. From the looks of the film, the war on drugs in America is a population of forgotten American citizens. 

There is a scene in the film were random people were on the street and interviewed about their knowledge on the war on drugs in America. People laughed, and spouted out their thoughts on the war. They believed that most drug use took place in countries like Columbia, Mexico and the Middle East. So they were shocked to find out that most drug activity occurs right in their backyard.

The director of this film was inspired to create this documentary because of his love of his family’s domestic worker, Nannie Jeter. Her story was one that he wanted to investigate, and learn more about. She assisted his family in Vermont; however, her own family resided in New Haven, CT. It was in New Haven that this documentary officially began, because this is where Nellie’s son died of AIDS; by way of a drug overdose.

Now this documentary could easily be ignored because the topic of this film is a cliché topic to investigate; poor people and drugs. Yet, this film deserves your attention. The film initiates a conversation that I have often times thought about but never investigated at depth.

A reoccurring theme throughout the film is that drug use is a mental and spiritual war that is associated with poverty, pain, and race. It is my opinion that it will take the non drug users to end this war on drugs in America.

The film did a great job in beginning a conversation about America’s war on drugs; however, it is up to the people to create an action orientated solution that will end America’s war on drugs.

This film explains why I love the power of the medium of film.


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