Runtime: 34 min
National Film Board of Canada
This groundbreaking film – featuring dramatized re-enactments with non-professional actors, some of whom were addicts in real life – examines how drug trafficking operates, how people become addicts and how this grim social reality might be curbed. Different authorities offer different solutions to the complex problem.
The first film in the world that dealt even-handedly and empathetically with questions of drug addiction, control, treatment and trafficking, Drug Addict was denied entry to the United States for portraying addicts as people in need of medical treatment rather than criminals (the film’s outspoken and humane approach advocated treatment rather than jail for its offenders). Hollywood’s production code at the time forbade even mention of these subjects.
Even though Drug Addict won a Canadian Film Award and a BAFTA award for best documentary, the NFB did not promote its use widely and it was never listed in catalogues. The film’s lighting, camerawork and overall aesthetic are comparable to Robert Anderson’s Mental Mechanisms films and other social dramas of the period.