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Film Review on The House I Live In

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Creston neighbors recently viewed and discussed a documentary about the war on drugs. The film's takeaway? Drug abusers are not the only victims of drug addiction.

To join the movement or learn more about the war on drugs, check out the website!

By Lindy Nawrocki

In 2012 Director Eugene Jarecki, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It was for The House I Live In and his second time winning the award.  Jarecki’s documentaries are often political and dramatic, exposing his discontent at areas of corruption and exploitation in our society. The House I Live In stays true to the honest, pro-active, and revealing story-telling style of Jarecki.

In The House I Live In, Jarecki opens up about his own upbringing. He weaves his own experiences with those of his nanny's, whose son was addicted to drugs, and the lives of many others involved in the drug industry; all to make the point that the war on drugs affects everyone. Everyone is interconnected. Jarecki interviews his nanny whose life as an African American female was far different and difficult than Jarecki ever dared to guess. He also interviews and follows the stories of an activist whose rose out of a history of doing drugs and living in poverty, a handful of politicians and lawyers, a young father incarcerated because he was drug trafficking, a young woman selling drugs in order to survive, a border police officer sees profiling as necessary to his job, and many others. Jarecki truly delves into the many view points of view, pointing out that this war on drugs is deeper rooted than many ever realized. 

Each side of the War on Drugs is examined, from those who are for harsher punishment on those who commit drug-related crimes to those who view drugs as a necessary escape from harsh, deprived circumstances. Drug abuse is depicted as a major public and health problem in the United States, tearing apart families, turning good citizens into “criminals” ceaselessly, and creating deep emotional scars on those making the arrests to those being arrested, and everyone who cares about those involved. 

The House I Live In exposes a dark, deep-rooted truth in American society that drug policy was initiated as a power to keep minorities on the outskirts of society.  This has developed noticeable disproportions in how many African-American and Hispanic members of society have been incarcerated, versus other groups. 

While the film only runs for a little less than two hours, it seemed longer since the implications are daunting and at some points discouraging. The takeway is more hopeful as the war on drugs is affecting our communities and areas of living, so we truly can make a difference for our fellow neighbors if we work hard enough. 

 “Drugs are the number one public issue in America,” Richard Nixon stated at one of his presidential speeches. Nixon coined the term "war on drugs" during his presidency in 1971. If this really is a war, then we need to realize that we have the power to fight against the destruction that drugs are doing to our communities. Once we engage ourselves and then understand the grave, yet enlightening implications of this documentary then our personal understanding can open up further communication lines. This was a powerful, instructive social justice film to view and discuss with CNA neighbors. 

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