Pubdate: Thu, 03 Dec 2009
Source: See Magazine (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 SEE Magazine
Author: G.H. Lewmer


Online Docs Like American Drug War  Are Ragged,
But They Express A POV Mainstream Media  Won't

Do-it-yourself documentaries are becoming more and more  popular on
the net - and for good reason.

Controversial, hot-button issues that corporate news  refuses to cover
can now be addressed within  citizen-based films that, thankfully, now
have the  opportunity to reach wide audiences and be seen be  millions
of viewers. Movies such as Loose Change,  Zeitgeist, and The Money
Masters provide a soapbox for  dissenting opinions and legitimate
questions about the  manner in which the elite media present
information -  and how they choose what information even makes it into
  the airwaves. Although esthetically raw, this forum is  invaluable, I
believe, for a healthier society and with  this in mind I bring to
your attention the fascinating  documentary American Drug War.

Admirably produced, written, and directed by Kevin  Booth, the
documentary focuses on the overwhelming  (American drug policy since
Nixon declared war on drugs  in the early 1970s) and the intimate
(Booth himself  dealing with the loss of four family members by legal
drugs) in an evocative and moving fashion. Loosely  structuring the
film into four segments (crack cocaine,  private prisons, crystal
meth, medicinal marijuana),  Booth paints a completely different
picture of the  "drug problem" than what the screaming media would
want  us to believe.

Booth's examination of the Iran-Contra scandal and its  relationship to the 
crack cocaine epidemic in the  United States in the mid-'80s is tremendous 
filmmaking  and the highlight of the film. By allowing incarcerated  and 
marginalized individuals whose lives were affected  by this story the 
opportunity to present their truths,  Booth undermines the media's 
"official version" of  history. It's an absorbing and riveting segment 
that  drills directly into the issue of privatizing prisons  by simply 
asking, "Who benefits in America by having so  many individuals behind 
bars?" (Hint: it's not you or  me.)

I believe Booth's reasons behind making the film are  contained within
the segments dealing with the loss of  his mother, father, brother,
and best friend to the  ravages of legalized drugs. Incorporating home
movies  with poignant narration, Booth memorably expresses his  grief,
but he also conveys how the "war on drugs" has  caused collateral
damage to everyday bystanders. For  anyone who has ever dealt with the
loss of a loved one,  it's tremendously moving and is a nice
counterpoint to  the film's more hard-hitting sequences.

My only dissenting thought is one of objectivity; there  is a lot of
"preaching to the converted" here, which  occasionally undermines the
strength of Booth's  material. It's the only blemish in a hard-hitting
  documentary that I encourage everyone to track down.  It's only a few
clicks away.

Watch American Drug War online at . 
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