Sackler Documentary — Columbus Theatre

(3.16) Oscar nominated feature documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” follows the life of artist Nan Goldin and the downfall of the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty largely responsible for the opioid epidemic’s unfathomable death toll. The film relates the photographer’s struggle with OxyContin and her protest against the art establishment that took money from its makers.*  Director Laura Poitras is best known for her 2014 documentary of the Edward Snowden story, “Citizenfour.” From the NYT review,

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” Laura Poitras’s intimate documentary about Goldin, her art and her activism, starts on March 10, 2018. That day, Goldin brought her fight against members of the Sackler family to the Met with a protest that turned its popular Temple of Dendur exhibition — an Egyptian temple installed in a gallery named the Sackler Wing — into a symbolic battlefield. It was a clash that pitted the artist against members of a family that is both extraordinarily wealthy and, as the journalist Patrick Radden Keefe wrote in a 2017 New Yorker article, is “one of America’s great philanthropic dynasties.” It also pitted Goldin against the art establishment that had helped make her an international art star.

Unfortunately the Sackler family has Rhode Island connections: At the time of John Oliver’s piece (one of two he did on the Sacklers), Rhode Island was home to one of the world’s largest oxycodone manufacturing plants, a Purdue subsidiary, Rhodes Technologies in Coventry.

*Many institutions not connected to the art world, like Brown University, have also accepted their money.

Brown University got caught holding onto a $1 million donation, hoping the whole thing would blow over. By September of 2019 Brown — instead of sending the money back as they should have — decided to work with La Fondation Sackler to “redirect” the funds to worthy, related causes. So who are the officials that Brown will be working with at that organization? Kathie Sackler, Marissa Sackler, Michael Sackler, Mortimer Sackler, Theresa Sackler . . . you get the idea. At the time of this Providence Journal report, Brown had redirected all of $100,000.

All those Sacklers remain in control; in fact two more have been added. I have searched and if Brown ever returned any of that $1 million donation back to the Sacklers, and withdrawn its $100,000 support of the specious La Fondation, I can not find it.

We wrote up the Sacklers last year when Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Crime of the Century” first aired on HBO. Add “Dopesick” (a dramatic account of the opioid crisis starring Michael Keaton) to the pile, and the Sacklers are working up quite a Hollywood portfolio for themselves. Perhaps we need a separate award ceremony just for them: The Shandas.

Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes.

$10, 7:30pm, Thursday, March 16, Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, (directions)


One year ago, RI Attorney General Peter Neronha,

. . . along with eight Attorney General colleagues, today announced a settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family for their role in the opioid epidemic that will increase the amounts of funds paid by the Sacklers from $4.325 billion under the original plan to at least $5.5 billion, and up to $6 billion. As part of the agreement, the Sackler family will issue a statement of regret for their role in the opioid epidemic and allow institutions to remove the Sackler name from buildings and scholarships.

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