SXSW Review: METH STORM: Arkansas USA (World Premiere)

With unparalleled access on both sides on both sides of the law, METH STORM: Arkansas USA is a thrilling non-fiction cops and robbers drama told form inside the American Drug War.

METH STORM: Arkansas USA shines a light on the dark underbelly of the United States that everyone forgets about or chooses to not pay attention to, impoverished, rural, middle America. As I watched this documentary I felt that not only was it a story about the war on drugs, but a social commentary on the poverty in this country. The amount of patience and dedication that Craig and Brent Renaud put into their work is extremely rewarding for the audience. The intimacy that this film has makes the viewer feel a deep connection and an immediate need to go out and make a difference.

What is unique about this film is that we get to see both sides of the war on drugs. The DEA task force and local law enforcement working hard to stop meth distribution in the town of Clinton, Arkansas and Veronica, a 30 year meth addict with two sons who are also addicts. It’s an extremely sad story of what comes about when a small impoverished town with virtually no employment opportunities, good health care or educational opportunities meets the opportunistic Mexican drug cartels.

Credit: Craig Renaud, Brent Renaud 01/26/2017

The film starts out with one promising line stating that American law enforcement has basically cracked down on All-American made meth in the United States. But the fight is with Mexico, and their extremely pure and very accessible meth being ran across the border. This film follows the DEA as they try to trace the drug trafficking into Arkansas back to the cartel by arresting virtually half of a town addicted to meth. Veronica allowed Craig and Brent into her life and also shined a light on the situation. Most of the people who were being arrested weren’t big time drug lords. They were just people trying to support a habit and make rent.

The lifestyles these people lead are tragic. It’s hard to watch at times. It’s eye opening and important to take notice that places like Clinton Arkansas exist in this country. Entire towns are hurting and suffering. Craig and Brent Renaud are able to quite literally make you feel almost every emotion possible as you go on this journey.

The most exciting thing is that HBO Documentaries picked up METH STORM: Arkansas USA and it is hoped it will be out this year. I highly recommend watching it when it comes out. This is a problem that can no longer be ignored. It’s a beautifully shot, informative documentary that deserves everyone’s attention.

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