Hot Docs 2020 Exclusive: Premiering The Trailer For DOPE IS DEATH, Fighting Heroin Addiction and The System in 1970s New York
Hot Docs Film Festival has gone digital this Spring in wake of the pandemic shaking most of the World to its knees. Starting on May 28th films can be screened online including the Canadian premiere of Mia Donovan`s Dope is Death. Screen Anarchy is pleased to premiere the trailer for this timely documentary. Find it below.
Normally, while we have covered HotDocs and written about many documentary films you would not say that they are a part of our primary mandate. However, in the dark light of the pandemic, and the sad reality that a disproportionate number of deaths have hit the Afro-American community especially hard during this time and no one seems to care, Dope is Death could not be more relevant.
This story of a community under siege from heroin, banding together and turning to traditional medicine instead of institutional medicine. To throw the system back into the face of their oppressors and offer relief from addiction, for free, is not just a throw but an outright slap.
Yeah, not so much the pool in which Screen Anarchy wades, but we`ll be willing to dip our big toes into the Dope is Death pool and have a look.
In the 1970s, the number of heroin addicts exploded in New York. The Black Panther party saw the epidemic as a form of chemical warfare against the poor and people of colour. So what do you do? With the charismatic Dr. Mutulu Shakur (Tupac's stepfather) at the head, a core of activists from the Black Panthers and the Puerto Rican Young Lords occupied an entire hospital in Harlem and gave thousands of people free treatment in the form of acupuncture instead of methadone. Their success was a thorn in the side of Nixon.Mia Donovan weaves fantastic archive footage together with today's continually inflamed disparity between race and drug abuse in the United States, and 'Dope is Death' tells a highly up-to-date story about racism, guerilla politics, civil disobedience and an unresolved bank robbery, which may have been a cover-up.The fact that the story is new to most of us is an important part of it. The lines can be drawn all the way down to today, as we begin to realise why we have never heard about it before.