The rather hilarious while also subversively poignant mockumentary Get the Weed comes from Uruguay, the South American country that 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 (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.
Both of the co-directors answered my questions about the film, which was also co-directed by Alfonso Guerrero.
How did this film come about? Clearly, you were in the United States for some “official” functions, like that 420 fest in Denver. Was it all for the sake of the film or was the film a byproduct of the trip? The film came after a marijuana hidden camera bit we did in Uruguay that got almost a million views in YouTube. It was the “Test Oficial”, and it was shown by The Guardian, Le Monde, Clarín, etc.
Two months later, I was on holiday in Los Angeles and it was the Cannabis Cup. That was the spark for the idea of the mockumentary and the “Uruguayan Chamber of Legal Marijuana,” so when I came back, the rest of the team loved it. We had two months to prepare for the 4/20 in Denver and the rest of the film.
Are you well known actors/filmmakers in Uruguay? We are known among the industry but this was our first feature film.
American viewers may have a hard time realizing how much of this is actually true. Uruguay did legalize cannabis right, and then there was also a shortage, correct? Yes, that is correct. Most of the movie is based on real facts but they are seen from an absurd point of view. The Uruguayan state was in charge of the production and distribution of cannabis — that was an amazing starting point for the comedy.
Much of this seems very Borat-like. When did your interview subjects find out that they were part of a mockumentary? Every case was different.
How did you enlist the services of your president? It was a difficult task, but he has an incredible sense of humor. With any other president in the world, this would be impossible. The fact that this movie is released speaks about the democratic level of our country. We did a private screening for him before the release and he gave us the green light, but we were really nervous.
Despite the comedy, this does reveal some of the hypocrisies of the “war against drugs”? Was that an intent? We believe that humor is a good vehicle to show the absurd and satire has always been a good tool for critical thinking. It is not our intent to show an explicit political view of this issue; there are many movies about that. Each viewer can have their own conclusions.
How is the weed situation in Uruguay now? It is fully legalized and there are three ways for buying (only for Uruguayans citizens):
1) Each person can self cultivate up to six plants
2) Join a cannabis club and get up to 40 grams of high quality weed per month
3) Buy up to 40 grams of the state-owned marijuana in the pharmacy for one dollar a gram (the supply is still a challenge).
Any other funny or meaningful anecdotes from the filmmaker process? A lot! We almost got arrested in D.C. for cooking brownies with fake marijuana in the hostel. Every scene with the president was a challenge, especially in the airplane; it was a real flight and no one was expecting us. We had to abort a hidden camera with five DEA agents in NYC because the victim got violent with a knife.
Have you found any good weed in Santa Barbara? it’s legal here now, but there are no legal stores yet! We just arrived. We are thinking in moving here and opening one!