DocFest Liveblog – Day Two

Here’s the second day of our coverage of this years Sheffield DocFest. The whole “live” aspect of the liveblog fell apart today, for which we apologise. However, our Twitter feed was pretty much solely concerned with the festival, and you can follow our special “DocFest Press and Assorted Journalist-types” Twitter feed too, at this LINK.

* So today we took in for films, with the overall day being one split directly in two: on the one hand, and in the morning, we had a pair of very strong works ground in serious subject matter (alcohol problems and drug issues), while the evening was dedicated to more lighthearted fare. 

The House I Live InFreakonomics director Eugene Jarecki has returned to screens with his most ambitious work to date – an all-encompassing and sprawling work that charts the American governments ill-fated war on drugs. Jarecki charts 40 years worth of electioneering time propaganda masquerading as flawed policy, citing judges, media types and criminals in his quest for the greater picture. The House I Live In is a worthy picture, and one that sheds a light on an all too brushed over subject. The various experts on hand, both academic and regular folk (reformed drug dealers, prison guards etc) propose that governmental drug policy is little more than a form of “racial control”, with everything from opium, crack and meth being used to quell specific areas of society at certain times in American history. David Simon of The Wire puts it most effectively when he says that the jurisdictional process, in which mandatory minimum sentences are destroying the lives of millions of Americans a year as a “Holocaust in slow motion”.

The House I Live In is powerful, affecting work. 

The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song – Christy Garland’s film looks at the story of Mary an alcohol dependent grandmother from Guyana and her son Muscle, an aspirational young business man whose trade just so happens to be cock fighting. I’s a bleak watch, and the emotional handle feels a little too forced at times, but the impressive moments really are memorable – Muscle’s chicken coup philosophy, his talent for the spoken word presumably inherited from his mothers ability to string together solid little poems makes for powerful viewing.

Searching For Sugar Man – Poised to be the first great breakout hit of this years DocFest (it sees theatrical release at the end of July), Searching For Sugar Man blends solid music-documentary with good a old fashion mystery story. Old fashioned pre tech detective story. It’s unfair to say too much about the film without ruining the surprise, but needless to say I’ve not felt that euphoric leaving a screening in quite some time. 

The Punk Syndrome – A documentary charting the rise of Finnish punks Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, a band made up of four handicap men. The attitudes of the four men fall firmly within the spirit of punk, with the guys using their medium as a rally cry against the injustices that they feel they’re being subjected to. It really is an uplifting, joyful work, and is incredibly funny to boot (A sequence involving a pedicure might just be my favourite of the festival thus far).Held together by a couple of great characters and a real warmth, The Punk Syndrome was the perfect end to a fantastic day.



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