First Ever Pot Film Festival Kicks Off In Brooklyn

By Keri Blakinger 09/25/15

A new film festival is budding in New York City this weekend.

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NYC Cannabis Film Fest
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On Saturday, Brooklyn will host the first-ever New York City Cannabis Film Festival. Slotted for an afternoon and evening at the Wythe Hotel, the festival will feature marijuana-focused films geared toward people who are under the influence of marijuana.

In other words, it’s a film festival about getting stoned, geared toward stoners, while they’re stoned.

Or, as the event website puts it, “The New York City Cannabis Film Festival brings the best of cannabis film media to the most diverse audience in the world. By exploring and celebrating the plant through the cinematic lens we hope to raise the public level of consciousness around cannabis. Our mission is to elevate cannabis culture, inspire productive dialogue, and give artists a platform to showcase their genius.”

Michael Zaytsev, one of the event organizers, told the New York Daily News, "We want to celebrate the creativity of the cannabis community and invite those outside the community to learn more about this wonderful plant and people who are inspired by it."

The first screening, of course, is at 4:20 p.m. It’s a combo of seven shorts and a full-length documentary called The Scientist. Tim Mattson, the festival’s director, told The Village Voice that the shorts are animated, trippy, and “laugh your ass off, freak you out” funny.

The feature film, on the other hand, profiles Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist best known for his work with THC.

Zach Klein, the man who made The Scientist, said that the film also addresses the medical value of pot. He told The Village Voice, “I think the most important thing to note is the science behind cannabis. Not only about the plant, but about our body, how our body works, it’s important to know how our brain works."

“I think it’s so important for everyone, not only for cannabis people, cannabis lovers, but for everyone who thinks about their health," Klein continued. "Cannabis should be a top priority for research, as it contains the key to many of our diseases. The endocannabinoid system is involved in all diseases known to humans."

A second screening starts at 7:10 p.m. and tickets for both screenings are available on EventBrite for $20 apiece. 

Zaytsev said, "We want to celebrate the creativity of the cannabis community and invite those outside the community to learn more about this wonderful plant and people who are inspired by it.” He added, "We want to challenge the stigma of the lazy stoner.”

Unfortunately for event attendees, recreational cannabis use isn’t legal in New York, at least not yet. So if you’re planning to hit up the new festival and celebrate in full stoner style, you’ll still have to toke on the DL.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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