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Cocaine Unwrapped

Documents the devastating effects of the war on drugs and suggests realistic alternatives.

A printer-friendly version of this page 83 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Rachel Seifert
Produced by Dartmouth Films
Executive Producer: Christopher Hird
Co-Producer: Katherine Eisner
Line Producer: Sandra Leeming
Editor: Chris Scurfield
Camera/Sound: Owen Scurfield
Music: Tristan Warren

"A terrific introduction to the insanity known as the War on Drugs." Jeffrey Miron, Department of Economics, Harvard University, Senior Fellow, The Cato Institute
COCAINE UNWRAPPED tells the story of cocaine: coca farmers in Colombia, drug mules in Ecuadorian prisons, cocaine factories in the Bolivian jungle, dealers on the streets of Mexico, law enforcement officials on the streets of Baltimore -- and the everyday consumers around the dinner tables of the West.

It's a story of politics, death, economic and environmental devastation and human suffering, and explores realistic alternatives to the war on drugs.

The film features front line reportage, exclusive access to the political leaders of Latin America, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as well as revealing interviews with drug czars. Watch this film and you will never think the same way again about the "War on Drugs".

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2013     Copyright Date: 2011
DVD ISBN: 1-93777-256-X

"Cocaine Unwrapped is an excellently made and timely documentary that lucidly shows how drugs like cocaine both affect and connect people--from the impoverished peasants who grow the coca leaf in the tropical Andes to the drug's many users and abusers throughout the world. Just as important, it also shows the damage that misguided U.S. anti-drug policies have had on those same people--fanning the violence and destruction that surrounds drug trafficking without really solving our problems with cocaine."
Paul Gootenberg, Professor of History and Sociology, Stony Brook University, Author of Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug

"Cocaine Unwrapped is a terrific introduction to the insanity known as the War on Drugs. Teachers and professors who want to give their students a fresh and compelling perspective could not do better than to start with this documentary."
Jeffrey Miron, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Economics, Harvard University, Senior Fellow, The Cato Institute, Author, Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition

"Cocaine Unwrapped shows how drug wars have not only failed to reduce the production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs, but have left in their wake collateral damage as devastating as the problems they purported to resolve...This film should provoke casual cocaine users and policy makers alike to think twice about the consequences of their actions. Cocaine Unwrapped is a clarion call for revamping current drug policies."
Virginia Bouvier, Senior Program Officer, Latin America, Center of Innovation, United States Institute for Peace

"Rachel Seifert did an impressive job in connecting all the dots of the global drug cycle and its effects on society. Without blatantly driving the audiences' view, the film powerfully shows that some countries have been able to change the course of this vicious circle. Others still need to think outside the box."
Sebastian Graefe, Program Director for Foreign and Security Policy and Transatlantic Issues, Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America

"Cocaine Unwrapped is very, very good, and Seifert is to be commended for producing such a detailed as well as powerful narrative for what is one of the most pressing human rights and environmental disasters of our era...[The film] will shatter your illusions about the war on drug users if you harbour any and motivate you to do something about it if you don't."
Sarah McCulloch, Re:Vision Drug Policy Network

"Highly Recommended...The film offers an impressive array of interviewees including past and present presidents of Latin American nations, and high ranking US officials who show no reservations about criticizing US policies and enforcement...Cocaine Unwrapped does an outstanding job of peeling back not only the $100 billion annual cost of the United States' war on drugs, but the precipitating costs in other areas, including human capital."
Michael J. Coffta, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Educational Media Reviews Online

"A useful introduction to the business of supplying that illicit drug to its willing consumers...In raising important questions about the policy choices that have created or exacerbated the litany of harms chronicled, it can effectively generate much-needed discussion...Critical documentaries such as Cocaine Unwrapped are no longer merely preaching to a very small choir but may be instrumental in contributing to a debate that is moving to center stage. Any modification of the present failed punitive regime will have profound repercussions, one hopes for the good, for the many who make their living from the commerce in illicit drugs."
Madeline Barbara Leons, Towson University, Anthropology of Work Review

"Harrowing...Challenges viewers to rethink American anti-drug policies, if only because the current status quo is unforgivably brutal and ineffective. Highly recommended, especially for high school, public, and college library collections."
The Midwest Book Review

"Seifert lays bare a flawed system where military force and blanket criminalisation perpetuate a terrible cycle of violence...A hopeful future depends on stifling demand - and this is a compassionate, considered plea to weekend warriors to think twice before choosing charlie."
Simon Kinnear, Total Film

"An intelligent and contemplative look at the 'war on drugs,' Rachel Seifert's Cocaine Unwrapped features unprecedented access to many of the key players in the 'war' and examines with stark honesty the dark and true impact of this war that has largely failed in its stated objectives while, in many areas, proving to have a devastating impact to the economics of already poor regions of the world."
Richard Propes, The Independent Critic

"Gritty, hard hitting and jam packed with knowledge...A shocking documentary about an ever-expanding problem...Powerful. It leaves the audience seeking solutions, and the key governments and influencers in the world with their pants down...Really did rejuvenate one's faith in raw, honest and good storytelling."
Dwain Lucktung, Community Channel Review

"Undeniably raises important points for any informed policy debate to consider. In emphasizing the complexity and complicities of a global issue, Seifert has produced a film that demands to be widely seen."
Siobhan McGuirk, Red Pepper Magazine

"A terrific and original film. It shows well why a real development model is needed to combat the cocaine market and to respect people's rights. Not to be missed!"
Constantino Casasbuenas Morales, Policy Adviser, Economic Justice team, Oxfam

"This film is about the human tragedies behind the war on drugs. You won't forget those images."
Baroness Meacher, House of Lords, London

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and scene selection.

The Film's Website

Awards and Festivals
Latin American Studies Association Film Festival
Open City London Documentary Film Festival
International Human Rights Film Festival, Buenos Aires
Icaro Central American Film and Video Festival
Human Rights International Film Festival, Bolivia
Human Rights International Film Festival, Mexico
Human Rights International Film Festival, Santiago del Estero
HumanDoc International Film Festival
Valdivia International Film Festival
Latin American Film Festival of Flanders
London Latin American Film Festival

At-risk Youth
Foreign Policy

Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
International Studies
Latin American Studies
Race and Racism
Toxic Chemicals
War on Drugs

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... more Reviews

"Powerful interviews...Cleverly illustrates the impact of this international, multi-billion pound war by highlighting the personal stories of individuals impacted by the cocaine trade."
Ari Rosmarin, Talking Drugs

"Provid[es] yet more evidence that international drugs policy is not working...Flies in the face of traditional policies which can ultimately lead to disturbing social, environmental and human health consequences."
Emmajo Read, Timeout London

"Powerful, intelligent and moving. Essential viewing. If only policy makers and tabloid editors could be forced to watch it, maybe then we'd start to see a new and compassionate approach to the issue."
Jennifer Nadel, former Independent Television News (ITN) journalist

"A very important documentary that ought to be obligatory viewing for any legislator or law enforcement officer anywhere in the world. The 'recreational' user should also be required to see it as penance for their thoughtless indulgence."
Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcaster and author, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions

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