A film Written, Directed, and Produced by Brazilian Filmmaker Enzo Flores is on the Official Selection NewFilmmakers NY and Golden Door International Film Festival.
The story starts when in a present-day Bushwick, a young heroin dealer struggles to keep up with the massive demand, while his sister roams around the neighborhood in a desperate search for her next fix. Though the drug market trade-off provides the safekeeping of their mother, a set of contradictions disentangle their family’s bonds.
In the light of the Spanish-language dialect spoken in a few scenes throughout the film, as well as Irving’s Puerto Rican flag hung on his bedroom wall, it’s safe to assume that the dysfunctional family consists of first- or second-generation immigrants. Considering that the Central American people represent the original residents of Bushwick, which are now sidelined by real estate development and economic growth, their centralized involvement in the narrative serves as a critical showcase of their conflicting identity on an individual and spatial level.
Moreover, corresponding with the prevalent and legitimate issues addressed by the film, it would not be farfetched in the slightest to affirm that Dope Sick is a hybrid work of “fictionalized reality,” where in the narrative is bred by and based on the palpable reality of the neighborhood.
At one point, during a pivotal moment, the film cuts to an unabridged shot of a pile of used heroin syringes strewn about the grounds of an abandoned railroad, emphasizing the fact that many users go to that exact location seeking synthetic detachment to rid themselves from the crippling symptoms of dopesickness.
In the grand scheme of things, this moment provides a snapshot of the sprawling public health crisis beset by the opioid epidemic, which has spread to most of every county, city, and neighborhood in America over the last decade, and claimed the lives of over a quarter of a million people regardless of their class status or ethnic group.
When speaking to Dope Sick writer-director Enzo Flores on his primary motivations for tackling the topic of heroin addiction, I noticed his natural inclination to focus on the complexities of the issue on a big picture scale. Highlighting the large involvement of doctors and pharmaceutical companies in generating what is now known as the opioid crisis, the Brazilian filmmaker talked about the challenging process of constructing the narrative around the multifaceted, intricate set of issues. He shared that his intention during the development process was to weave together the mysterious nature of drug dependency, the more extensive array of circumstantial conditions, and the systemic impetus that lead individuals to use drugs in the first place. Based on Enzo’s experience of living in Bushwick for several years and navigating that space as a South American immigrant originally from a countryside town, it becomes clear that the filmmaker examines his sense of privilege and belonging through the exploration of the film’s characters and conflicts.
Premiering at the historic Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and at Loew’s Jersey Theater in Jersey City, Dope Sick was selected to appear at domestic and international film festivals, and is now availa-ble to stream for free on the filmmaker’s Vimeo channel.