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Jonathan Blank

Jonathan Blank

Articles - Directing

The most liberal country in the world

has the same low rate (of heroin users) as one of the most totalitarian

countries in the world. That disproves the idea that you need totalitarian

measures to deal with these problems."

So says Director Jonathan Blank about the utopic look

he has created in his new documentary Sex, Drugs and Democracy, an examination of the Dutch vision of a free society. Remarkable

in its straightforwardness, Sex, Drugs and Democracy exploits

the Dutch concept of personal freedom and responsibility through

interviews with pol­iticians,law officers, academics, and others

involved in a society that includes a legalized sex industry, the

open sale of marijuana, equality for gays, and the distribution

of clean syringes and methadone to drug addicts.

Blank, along with producer Barclay Powers, spent

months accessing politicians, judges, prostitutes, law enforcement

agents and scientists to gain some insight into the remarkable results

of the Dutch version of democracy. What they assembled into the

feature-length documentary serves to reinforce the concept of `if

you tell someone they can’t have something, they’ll only want it

more.’ Yet the Dutch populace believes if you allow them to decide

for themselves if something like sex or drugs has merit, chances

are they won’t want it any longer.

Blank: America’s war on drugs is a total fiasco.

"That’s not to say what works in Holland will

definitely work in America," cautioned Blank. "What it

is trying to say is the ideas that we run by here (in America) might

not be the only ones viable. A 30-year war on drugs we’ve seen hasn’t

worked …. I don’t really understand how in a capitalist country

like ours we can keep pumping so much money down the drain on a

war on drugs when, in any other instance, we would say this is a

huge waste of money. In a capitalist society, you’re supposed to

get results. If you’re having a war on drugs and you’re not decreasing

the amount of drugs coming into the country, then your war on drugs

is a total fiasco and should be exposed as such. I think in America

perception is more important than reality," admitted Blank

when faced with the question of why Americans typically resist 90

percent of the film’s statement. "I think there’s a tendency

in our society to avoid looking for solutions. In some sense, creating

conflicts is more expedient to people’s political goals than finding

a solution. It’s a closed-mindedness, a feeling of wanting to blame

other people rather than seeking a solution to the problem."

Blank and Powers have collaborated previously on

the pop-anthropological documentary Collecting America, a

film about the multi-million dollar baseball memorabilia business. Sex, Drugs and Democracy has started its wide theatrical

release and has been invited to the Montreal International Film

Festival this fall. It is their first full-length film and features

a driving original soundtrack.

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