The Atlantic Selects: “Mothers and Meth”

The Atlantic Selects: “Mothers and Meth”

Source:  The Atlantic

In the United States, methamphetamine is making a comeback. Following the legalization of medical marijuana in California, Mexican cartels pivoted to the production of pure liquid meth, which is brought across the border and crystallized in conversion labs.

There is more meth on the streets than ever before, according to William Ruzzamenti, a 30-year Drug Enforcement Administration veteran and the Executive Director of the Central Valley California HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).

It’s also cheaper than ever—the average cost of an ounce of methamphetamine dropped from nearly $968 in 2013 to around $250 in 2016.

“I think a lot of people associate meth with the 1990s, and this comeback has gone largely unnoticed in the shadow of the heroin and opioid epidemics,” Mary Newman, a journalist at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, told The Atlantic.

Newman’s documentary short, “Motherhood and Meth,” focuses on the drug’s frequently overlooked and arguably most vulnerable victims: children.

Although no scientific research has been conducted that directly correlates meth addiction to child abuse or neglect, many experts on the subject report a connection that Newman describes as “staggering.”

In her film, Newman interviews Dr. Philip Hyden, a child abuse specialist who has worked across the U.S. for more than 30 years. Since 2010, Dr. Hyden has served as the medical director at the Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, the poorest urban ZIP code in the state.

Fresno experiences a high incidence of child abuse, and Dr. Hyden attributes one cause to the high rate of methamphetamine addiction in the region. He estimates that meth use is involved in over 70% of the 1,000 abuse cases the clinic sees each year.

Read the story at The Atlantic.

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“Crime + Punishment” examines the damage caused by policing quotas

“Crime + Punishment” examines the damage caused by policing quotas

Source:  The Washingston Post

The documentary “Crime + Punishment,” through a combination of sobering statistics and lively characters who bring those statistics to vivid life, tracks the progress of a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of 12 New York City police officers who allege that the department has continued to rely on a system of arrest quotas, despite the fact that the system was officially outlawed in 2010.

Sometimes known as “broken windows” policing, that policy — under which cops can be disciplined for failing to meet a minimum number of minor arrests and/or summonses — disproportionately affects blacks and other minorities, and often leads to frivolous detainments, according to the film, which has been directed with a kind of measured dismay by Stephen Maing.

Between 2007 and 2015, for example, more than 900,000 summonses were ultimately dismissed by the courts for lack of probable cause.

So why perpetuate such an apparently ineffective policy? As Maing argues, it’s money. In one recent year, more than $900 million of New York’s budget came from summonses, fines, and arrest-related fees.

Read the story at The Washington Post.

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“Minding the Gap” is an astonishing film about American life

“Minding the Gap” is an astonishing film about American life

Source:  The New York Times

They grew up together in Rockford, Illinois, three boys united by their love of skateboarding. At a certain point — around middle school, it seems — one of them, Bing Liu, began videotaping their exploits.

A pleasure of “Minding the Gap,” Mr. Liu’s astonishing debut feature, is to observe how skating and filmmaking flow together. As the young men get stronger, bolder and more dexterous, his camera skills keep pace, and he captures the sense of risk, freedom and creativity that makes their pastime more than just a hobby.

It’s not only the glue that binds them to one another through tough times but also a source of identity and meaning, a way of life and a life saver. “Minding the Gap” is more than a celebration of skateboarding as a sport and a subculture.

With infinite sensitivity, Mr. Liu delves into some of the most painful and intimate details of his friends’ lives and his own, and then layers his observations into a rich, devastating essay on race, class and manhood in 21st-century America.

“Minding the Gap” is available on Hulu. 

Read the story at The New York Times. 

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Steve James’ Starz docuseries “America to Me” explores racial issues in our schools through students’ eyes

Steve James’ Starz docuseries “America to Me” explores racial issues in our schools through students’ eyes

Source:  IndieWire

In January, episodes of Steve James’ docuseries, “America to Me,” opened the Sundance Film Festival’s Indie Program and represented the new program’s first major sale ($5 million). Now Starz has released a trailer for the ten-part look inside an affluent-yet-segregated Chicago public school.

James — whose features have earned him Oscar nominations in the documentary (“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”) and editing (“Hoop Dreams”) categories — spent a year embedded inside Oak Park and River Forest High School, a scenic institution with benevolent teachers, every amenity imaginable, and one disquieting drawback. White students’ test scores are climbing while black students’ have stagnated.

While black staff members are anxious to address the chasm, the majority of the school’s board is white and appear unconcerned.

Thus a rift emerges among the same academic leaders trying to reconcile their students who refuse to commingle in the cafeteria, let alone on the cheerleading team.

“America to Me” premieres Sunday, August 26 on Starz.

Read the story at IndieWire. 

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Roger Ross Williams’ “American Jail” explores the destructive, cyclical aspects of the U.S. prison system

Roger Ross Williams’ “American Jail” explores the destructive, cyclical aspects of the U.S. prison system

Source:  IndieWire

After his last film, “Life, Animated,” became an audience favorite, director Roger Ross Williams’ new film, “American Jail,” is turning its attention to the U.S. prison system.

CNN has released the first look at the upcoming film, which examines the individuals and entities that benefit from the existing framework and will see Williams traveling outside the U.S. for potential solutions to the problem.

To illustrate the forces behind the “prison pipeline” that Williams’ film looks to document, “American Jail” features commentary from leading experts in this field of study and testimony from individuals currently serving sentences in American facilities.

“American Jail” premieres Sunday, July 1 on CNN.

Read the story at IndieWire.

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Netflix readies “Recovery Boys.” Doc follows four West Virginian men as they attempt to reenter society following years of opioid abuse.

Netflix readies “Recovery Boys.” Doc follows four West Virginian men as they attempt to reenter society following years of opioid abuse.

Source:  Realcreen

Netflix is readying the premiere of Academy Award nominee Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s feature documentary debut, “Recovery Boys.”

The film, which premiered at the 2018 Hot Docs Festival, provides an intimate look at the lives of four West Virginian men in the heart of America’s opioid epidemic as they attempt to reenter society following years of drug abuse.

Following rehab, they experience life’s trials and tribulations sober but struggle to find their place and purpose in society.

McMillion Sheldon was nominated for an Academy Award in 2018 in the Documentary Short Subject category for “Heroin(e).

“Recovery Boys” premieres on Netflix on June 29.

Read the story at Realscreen. 

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