In episode 24 of the Inspireland podcast I was delighted to be joined on the phone by author, documentary maker, and director of The House I Live In Eugene Jarecki. Jarecki began as a theatre director before moving to the cinema and his last 2 feature length documentaries, Why We Fight and The House I live In, both won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at Sundance.
The House I Live In is the best Netflix documentary I’ve seen. It explores the US drug war from multiple angles and exposes its failure. The war fails the addicts, it fails the law and order community, it fails the communities destroyed by drugs, it fails casual users, it fails everyone. The only people the war seems to benefit are those who stand to make money from the Prison Industrial Complex. As The Wire creator David Simon says near the start of the doc:
If it was draconian and it worked that would be one thing, but it’s draconian and it doesn’t work
Jarecki is a force of nature
When I hung up the phone from Eugene I sat back in my chair. I felt overwhelmed. Jarecki is a force of nature when he speaks about the subjects that inspire him. I was struck by his compassion, empathy, anger, and relentless optimism. That’s the beauty of Jarecki’s work, for all his film’s quiet rage there’s a sense of revolution, not resignation.
Our conversation covered plenty of ground as always, including:
- Eugene telling a great story about Paul Robeson.
- Eugene’s description of the birth of The War on Drugs including it’s historical racial motivation.
- Eugene points out that Nixon’s take on addiction was more understanding than the version of himself he portrayed at election time.
- Eugene describes what the Prison Industrial Complex is and how it erodes the integrity of the democratic process.
- Wealth inequality in America.
- What we can do to influence our political system.
- The episode closes with Eugene giving a list of some of his favourite docs.
Eugene was a superb and persuasive guest and I hope you enjoy listening to him as much I enjoyed speaking to him. Dave
Leave a rating for the podcast here. You can follow Jarecki on twitter here. Follow The House I Live In on twitter here. Check out the website associated with the film here. See my previous Jarecki posts here and here. For a full list of Jarecki's work check out his IMDb here.