Director Eugene Janecki Visits Campus to Discuss Documentary "The House I Live In"

By Wesley Yiin, PC '16

Director Eugene Janecki was the guest of honor at the Afro-American Culture Center on the afternoon of Friday, April 19, 2013. His acclaimed documentary film, The House I Live In, screened for a small group of students and Yale community members in an event co-sponsored by the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) and the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project (YUPP).

The afternoon began with the film, which explores the American criminal justice system, focusing on the War on Drugs and the implications of United States drug policy on human rights. The film tackles uncomfortable yet important issues, including a lengthy discussion on race in America, and is supported by a diverse array of interview subjects, ranging from convicts to policemen to David Simon, the creator of the popular and critically lauded series The Wire.

Following the film, students were able to ask Janecki about the film’s themes. In addition, Nannie Jeter, a local New Haven resident and longtime friend of Janecki’s who was featured in the film, was also in attendance. She spoke briefly about her beliefs and knowledge of the grim subject matter.

“We have a crisis right here, and we do nothing about it,” lamented Jeter, who criticized the American administration and laypeople for its response to such issues.

Janecki agreed with Jeter. He opened the conversation with a lengthy list of injustices that he saw within American societies. “I didn’t sign on for that ridiculous disparity of justice,” he concluded. “We are in a struggle for democracy itself.”

Janecki emphasized that the film was optimistic, despite the narratives it exposes. His goal in making films about “human pain,” he explained, was to help us “get on the side of the angels.”