It's the film that's now short-listed for an Oscar; it's a movie that was picked as 'film of the week' on BBC1's Film 2012, so impacting is the documentary's premise that the presenters of Film 2012, Claudia Winkleman and Danny Leigh, both hailed the movie as one of the biggest eye openers they had seen, and how they felt compelled to do something to end the war on drugs. The House I Live In has had a heavy rain of acclaim and adulation - and rightly so.
Owing to its immeasurable impact there is a special screening: On 11 December, at the prestigious Oval Space, Bethnal Green, The House I Live In will be shown with the accompaniment of a panel discussion complete with the erudite people who are on the frontlines of the drug policy discourse, all of whom have witnessed the catastrophic fallout from our punitive approaches to drug controls.
The panel shall include:
Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation - a world leading organisation that has lead the drug policy debate for over a decade. Steve is the author of the highly acclaimed Blueprint For Regulation, co-author of The Alternative World Drug Report: Counting The Costs Of The War On Drugs, and the esteemed author of a "beautifully argued essay" in the British Medical Journal that outlined the alternatives to the current drug policies.
Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of the charity Release. Release are the innovative drugs support group that was founded in the 60s. Under the banner of: Drugs, The Law & Human Rights, Release are unparalleled in their work with those who have suffered owing to current drug laws. Niamh co-wrote the report: A Quiet Revolution, Drug Decriminalisation Policies In Practice Across The Globe.
Annie Machon, former Mi5 officer, spy, and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, LEAP. Annie is now director of LEAP Europe and a LEAP UK speaker. LEAP are a multinational organisation comprised of senior police personnel, intelligence officers, judges, et al, who now speak out against the compounded harms that an enforcement approach to drugs has engendered. LEAP UK and LEAP Europe are set for full launch in 2013.
The Oval Space, Bethnal Green, plays host to The House I Live In film which amply conveys the tragic human costs of the 41 year old 'drug war' and the unintended consequences that insidiously trail. Director, Eugene Jarecki, delves into insipid tangle that the drug war has woven, and manages to pick apart the topic to leave nuanced and fervent conclusions, and yet still leaves the audience to dwell in their own deductions. This makes for a very clever mix on what has become an arguably stale subject matter.
With 4 and 5 star reviews from an array of sources such as: The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Empire Film (to name but a few) The House I Live In has managed to achieve a new brand of discourse via a stunning array of hitting visuals and raconteurs where a dusty, stagnant debate has seemingly failed. The drugs discussion tends to have an ingrained position on our collective society: there is a logic of 'drugs are bad, so we need to crack down' - which of course is far from the actuality when looked at from a close-up perspective. The film circumvents these outmoded mindsets and addresses the issue with a humanistic approach. With notable commentary from the Wire's creator, David Simon, the strap-line of "the war on drugs is a holocaust in slow motion" may seem heavy handed or even crass, but this throwaway line is carefully and painstakingly explained by a very thoughtful and poignant Mr Simon. Other notable names involved in the project are those of the executive producers, Brad Pitt and Danny Glover.
The Oval Space, Bethnal Green, screening promises to be an emotive, informative and thought provoking event. The House I Live In really is one of those films that we cannot afford to miss. Although the movie is focused on America's penal system, and takes a look at every aspect of the drug war, from street dealers to Eugene Jarecki's very own grieving grandmother, the collective experience echoes in every country, and in many ways the UK is on course for the same degree of carnage that the US has reaped on its population. The United States makes up 5% of the world's population but has 25% of the world's prisoners. With startling figures like this, we really do need to cast an assessing gaze over our current drug policies.
The House I Live In will be screened at the Oval Space, Bethnal Green, complete with panel discussion on the 11th December. Event details can be found on The Oval Space's website.
Follow Jason Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jasontron