Drug War Documentary Takes Top Sundance Honors

By McCarton Ackerman 01/30/12

The House I Live In, a scathing critique of the 40-year US drug war, wins the big documentary prize at Sundance.

Producer Melinda Shopsin and director
Eugene Jarecki take the plaudits.
Photo via

Drug war documentary The House I Live In took top Grand Jury Documentary Prize honors last night at the Sundance Film Festival, beating out 58 other films entered in the competition. Directed by Eugene Jarecki, the film tells the story of the 40-year US war on drugs, which has resulted in 44 million arrests since its inception. “My hope is to move people away from the drug war, to move them away from believing tough-on-crime rhetoric from politicians that is simply fortifying their political standing and lining the pockets of corporations who benefit at the expense of everyday people,” says Jarecki. The film portrays the drug war as an expensive folly that's failed to meet its stated goals, while costing the US more than a trillion dollars. It also also examines the US prison system which, according to Jarecki, has incarcerated up to a third of its total population for drug offenses. Jarecki previously won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for his 2005 documentary Why We Fight.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.