It’s not an official sidebar yet, but cannabis culture burns bright in three films this year.
The narrative offering is the very good crime dramedy set in Macedonia called Secret Ingredient. Like many eye-opening fest experiences, it shows what life is like in a former Eastern Bloc country that many of us barely know exists. The story follows a twenty-something who’s looking after his cancer-ridden father and stumbles upon a bunch of weed through his blue-collar job. Unable to afford the medicine his dad needs, he bakes some cake with the marijuana, and his teetotaling (at least when it comes to “drugs”) father is suddenly well. Word gets out, including to those folks looking for their weed, and the entertainment ensues, while commenting loudly on the enduring and damaging hypocrisy that still comes from the long-simmering War on Drugs.
Then from Uruguay we get the rather hilarious while also subversively poignant mockumentary Get the Weed. Uruguay actually legalized weed years ago (true story) but then didn’t have enough of it to give out (also true story). So their farmer-rebel-turned-president José Mujica (who willingly stars in this film, true story) enlists two of his comrades to go get some from the United States (not true story). He mock interviews a number of American officials in a seemingly Borat style, in which the interviewees don’t know it’s a joke. Meanwhile, some internal love drama ensues with our lovable, hapless search squad, and we get a nice tour of the United States’ legal pot landscape. A real hoot.
Lastly, there is the documentary Soviet Hippies, which is about exactly what it indicates. Apparently, as Americans were dropping out and tuning in, there was a wave of Russkies doing the same. They were emboldened by the promise of communism and yet cut down by those very same forces. Marijuana isn’t the central player in this film by any means, but the film features enough psychedelic imagery and associated informational paraphernalia that it’s certainly worth considering marijuana as central to your film-viewing.