Bordered by beautiful mountain ranges and gleaming waters, Seattle is one of the most desirable spots to live in the United States. According to Seattle is Dying, a documentary produced by the local KOMO news outlet, the appeal of the city is giving way to rampant crime, homelessness and disgrace.
After tackling issues related to homelessness and drug addiction in previous documentaries, the outlet decided to focus on how these elements impact the quality of life for residents and what can be done to curb the tide of despair that has gripped their beloved city.
The scope of the problem is distressing, and its visual evidence can be seen on nearly every corner. Junkyards hiding under overpasses, tents set up on the side of highways, disturbed members of the homeless community shouting obscenities on downtown streets.
The city has spent large amounts of money to battle the epidemic in their communities, but these philanthropic efforts have had little effect. The film illustrates a profound disconnect between the reality on the streets and the courses of action taken by the city's government agencies.
That disconnect is the central focus of the film as the filmmakers attempt to devise a strategy for restoring order to the region. They receive input from several whistleblower police officers who wish to remain anonymous. The conditions on the street are nearly post-apocalyptic, they claim, and the criminal justice system limits their ability to effectively enforce the law.
In a random list of 100 repeat offenders, the filmmakers find that every subject is homeless and drug-addicted. Most of those tested are afflicted with mental illness. But the majority of them have repeatedly been thrown back into society without a conviction or additional follow-up of any kind.
Seattle is Dying isn't afraid to examine the stark realities behind these issues. It does not intend to demonize the vulnerable. To the contrary, it questions why the city hasn't been able to do more for them. Ultimately, the film endorses more virulent enforcement, and advocates for increased access to recovery services for the city's population of prisoners and other at-risk individuals.