Zhou Hao, director of the critically acclaimed documentary "Senior Year", again delivers an astonishing film, this time recording his friends Long and Jun as they struggle to overcome their addiction to heroin. The film is a fascinating look into Chinese crime and drug culture, with addicts unabashedly divulging the best ways to avoid law enforcement and maintain highs. Over the course of three years, Long and Jun endure, but as it becomes clear that no improvement is being made, Zhou, and the audience, must examine the moral complications of a documentarian's role as silent historian.
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Often we like to think of the camera as merely a recording machine. In the making of Using, however, Zhou's camera forced him to take sides, offer exhortations, and ultimately impose intervention. His documentary Using is not reality TV. You cannot treat it like another scripted "Survivor" episode. If Zhou had the power to control how things should turn out, he probably would. In Using, the stakes were simply too high for Zhou to even remain the passive storyteller. And as a result of all these, the outcome is an engaging, unconventional, and extremely thought-provoking documentary.