17 Blocks displays the social differences in American society. For two decades, director David Rothbard follows the Sanford family, who lives in Washington DC. The documentary portrays how the family struggles to fight poverty, drugs and violence, mainly through footage taken by the family itself. The film's title reflects the distance between the United States Capitol and the neighbourhood in which the family lives. It's a short geographical distance, however, upon seeing the harsh realities of the Sanford family, the two seem worlds apart.
The themes the film addresses seem particularly relevant in times like these, considering the upcoming presidential election in November, but also in relation to the ever-recurring debate regarding the right to keep and bear arms in the US.
17 Blocks has won several awards, including the Jury Prize at the Melbourne Documentary Festival, as well as the award for Best Editing in a Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival.