“The United States is where most drugs are sold.” The Mexican meth cooker is working at night, his face covered by a bandana, protection against both smoke and any sort of identification. “We know we do harm with all the drugs that go there,” he goes on as you watch one of his colleagues stir a huge blue vat and another documents amounts with a cell phone camera. Their arms and hands swirl in smoke, rising as if from a witches’ brew, “But what are we going to do? We come from poverty. If we were doing well, we would be like you, traveling the world or doing good clean jobs like you guys.”
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“I was scared.” In August 2006, Renata Hill and six friends were arrested in the West Village. As she remembers it, they were walking outside the IFC Theater when a man accosted and then attacked them, leading to a fight when the women defended themselves. When police officers arrived on the scene, the man claimed the women assaulted him, at which point they were arrested, processed, and sent to Rikers Island, where they were locked in the fearsome BullPen, left to sleep on the floor.
“Aileen,” calls out Nick Broomfield near the end of Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, “I’m sorry.” At that moment, she’s being led away by two prison guards, following her final interview with the filmmaker. Apparently furious that the questions have veered toward the murders for which she’s on Florida’s death row, Wuornos has cut off the meeting, exercising the only control she has over her experience at that moment. She turns back to the camera one last time and raises her middle finger.
“I remember feeling frightened,” says Hafsat Abiola. “I just didn’t feel I could trust the police or their soldiers any more.” This after her mother, Kudirat Abiola, the charismatic leader of a pro-democracy movement in Nigeria, was assassinated in 1996. As Hafsat today looks back on that fraught history, so personal as well as so frighteningly public, she also looks forward with hope. The founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy tells her story in The Supreme Price, which considers the many complexities of Nigeria, ruled by a series of military regimes from 1966-1996. As current events continue to swirl—including the terrors of Boko Haram and the troubling presidency of Goodluck Jonathan—Hafsat persists.
“My father told me, this is a dark organization, don’t go there.” Gonen Ben Itzhak sets up the moment when he decided to join Shin Bet, the Israeli secret security service, with his reaction to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “I was shocked like everybody else,” he says, “I felt I needed to do something for my country.” His belief that joining Shin Bet appeared to be that something initiates the unresolved, perhaps irresolvable, conundrum at the center of The Green Prince, open in theaters 12 September. That conundrum begins with definitions and expectations, of self and nation, individual and community, morality, vengeance, and survival. The Palestinians were enemies, even the idea of Palestine was an existential threat to Israel, and so Itzhak embraced his work as a handler of double agents for Shin Bet, believing that the lines were clearly drawn. They were not. As it tells the story of Itzhak’s complicated relationship with one of these, Mosab Hassan Yousef, also known as “Son of Hamas,” Nadav Schirman’s film blurs lines as well, between drama and documentary, truth and desire, intersecting stories framed by smart edits between reenactments, archival footage, and interviews.