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April 23, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival Preview: How to Make Money Selling Drugs

by Curtis John

Screening: Thursday, April 25, 6pm

Venue: SVA Theater

Tickets: $16 (SOLD OUT, possible Rush Line availability)

Series: Tribeca Talks

Matthew Cooke’s documentary How to Make Money Selling Drugs is so bold and original that at first glance one may mistake it for fiction, but it is very real. Its inventiveness lays mostly in the title, not meant simply to capture audience’s attention but as a straight-up visual handbook for how one can get into the drug game. Featuring interviews with retired drug dealers, police officers, and attorneys, the film exposes the path to becoming a drug lord, drug trafficker, and the like in a slick and entertaining fashion. Cooke does this deliberately in order to “speak to a youth audience, to a cynical audience, and to the politically apathetic.” Selling Drugs also takes its story seriously by highlighting the dangers of being part of the drug trade, as well as by exposing the hypocrisy of the “war on drugs,” showing that it is more a war on people in particular minorities and the poor. The film also lifts the veil on how much money the government makes off the “war,” using the prison system and forfeitures and declaring how 2008 profits for the Department of Justice, alone, was $1 billion.

Yet, the interviews with a colorful array of drug dealers are the most memorable parts of the film. In particular is interview subject Bobby Carlton, who found a love of math and numbers in school by having to constantly calculate grams and ounces; Carlton became a successful drug dealer at the age of 14, and by 18 was making $50,000 daily dealing cocaine internationally. There are also appearances by hip-hop moguls and freedom rights advocates like 50 Cent, Russell Simmons, Susan Sarandon, and Woody Harrelson. Drug trade luminaries like “Freeway” Rick Ross, who admittedly invented crack cocaine and made $1 million a day by the time he was 30, are also featured. Selling Drugs is co-produced by actor Adrian Grenier, best known for playing Vincent Chase on the hit HBO show Entourage, who will be at the Tribeca Talks screening on April 25, along with Cooke and others from the film.

Limité Rating: 4/5

Director: Matthew Cooke

Genre: Documentary

Country: USA

Runtime: 100 min.

The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 17 – 28 in New York City.

Follow Limité Film Writer Curtis John on Twitter (@MediaManWatch) and check out his film and television blog,

posted by: Curtis John
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