Cannabis Documentary Lady Buds Explores Female Business Owners in New Release

A new cannabis film documentary entitled Lady Buds, releasing this weekend, explores the lives and challenges of female business owners.

The cannabis industry has heavily benefitted from niche documentaries, which present a professional way to educate viewers about the stigma of cannabis, its history on the War on Drugs or its effectiveness as a medicine. Films such as WEED (2013), featuring CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who opened up the conversation about medical cannabis to the nation. Weed the People (2018) explores the effectiveness of medical cannabis for children. Grass is Greener (2019) examines the history of music and its depiction of the War on Drugs.

Now it’s time to enjoy a new cinematic adventure in the form of Lady Buds—a unique perspective about female cannabis business owners from all walks of life.

Lady Buds recounts the lives and businesses of a diverse cast of individuals in Northern California, varying in race, age and sexual orientation. Seven women, who represent six cannabis businesses, are featured in Lady Buds: Sue Taylor, Chiah Rodriques, Felicia Carbajal, Karyn Wagner and The Bud Sisters (Pearl Moon and Dr. Joyce Centofanti). From cultivation to dispensary ownership and topical creation, these women all faced numerous challenges during the 2017-2019 window when the documentary was filmed. Lady Buds presents an intimate look at the lives of each subject, but also challenges the stereotypes both of “stoners” in general, as well as those of women in the industry.

Check out this exclusive clip from the film, featuring Karyn Wagner who shares an experience that her business ran into shortly after legalization in California went live. Enjoy this sneak peek!

High Times conducted an exclusive interview with Director, Producer and Writer Chris J. Russo in the High Times’ November Issue, aka the Women’s Issue, where she offered an inside look at her film and what kind of experience it presents to audiences. According to Russo, Lady Buds is the first of its kind—and it all began with a statistic about women in the industry that stuck with her. A few key studies have produced some shocking data about women in the industry, or lack thereof.

Back in 2015, according to a study conducted by Marijuana Business Daily (MBD), 36 percent of women held executive roles in the industry. By 2017, that percentage dropped by 26.9 percent, and then increased back up to 36.8 percent by 2019. MBD’s 2021 report entitled “Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry” shows a continued decline both in women, as well as people of color.

Lady Buds illuminates the issues that women face in this industry, but also highlights the challenges of all small cannabis businesses fighting to compete with larger cannabis corporations. “This film is kind of nothing like you’ve ever seen before because there hasn’t ever really been a film that’s showed such a wide range of areas that’s just like seeing it through a female lens,” Russo told High Times. “In my film, you explore the challenges of the entire supply chain with the women who are directly engaged in it. I like to make films that I want to see, so I want see more women in the positions of power in roles that are very positive.”

If you live near Los Angeles or San Francisco, check out the following live theatrical events:

November 26-27: Glendale Laemmle Theatre, 207 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale, CA 91206

November 29: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. San Francisco, CA 94103

The film will be releasing in select theaters on November 26, and will also be available on video on demand services such as iTunes.

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Fantastic Fungi Is A New Documentary That Celebrates The World Of Mushrooms

Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson may have just given us her most dramatic role to date, delivering compelling first-person narration as the voice of an army of mushrooms in the new documentary, Fantastic Fungi. The feature-length film digs deep into the world of the captivating yet mysterious organisms that feed on organic matter and break down plant life. From molds and yeast to mushrooms and toadstools, fungi have been around for 3.5 billion years, and this eponymous film uncovers why the incredible life form remains so important to us as humans today.

Courtesy Moving Art

Spoiler Alert. The film includes interviews with a number of scientists, professors, doctors, journalists, and others, including famous physician Dr. Andrew Weil. The film’s central figure is Paul Stamets, a mycologist who is a writer, speaker, researcher and entrepreneur working in the world of fungi. As a youth, Stamets had a horrible stutter and had trouble looking people in the eye. Influenced in part by Dr. Andrew Weil’s book, Altered States of Consciousness, Stamets decided to take ten times the normal dose of psychedelic mushrooms, finding himself on top of a tree in the midst of a thunderstorm. After some very powerful hallucinatory experiences, he came down from the tree, whereupon he lost his stutter and was suddenly able to start looking people in the eye.

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

“Mushrooms represent rebirth, rejuvenation, regeneration. Fungi generates soil that gives life,” Stamets says in the film. “If we don’t get our act together, and come in commonality and understanding with the organisms that sustain us today, not only will we destroy those organisms, but we will destroy ourselves.”

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

In Fantastic Fungi, we learn that mushrooms are the fruit of mycelium, an underground network that curiously shares a similar structure with the internet. The vegetative part of fungus, mycelium enables trees to communicate and feed one another. In fact, there’s a theory that because our ancestors started to consume mushrooms, the complex structure of mycelium changed our brains, and that’s how we evolved into the humans we are today. In the words of ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna (brother of famed psychedelics advocate Terence McKenna): “It’s not so simple to say that [our ancestors] ate psiloybin mushrooms and suddenly the brain mutated. I think it’s more complex than that. But I think it was a factor.”

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

Fantastic Fungi touches on the divide between eastern and western medicine, and the use of fungi in holistic healing practices. “I recommend mushrooms and mushroom products frequently to patients and I teach other doctors about their uses,” Dr. Weil says in the film. “Mushrooms are completely unusual organisms and they’re ignored by so many people, and yet they’re a vital interface between all forms of life.”

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

Not only do mushrooms facilitate our connection to nature, but research has shown that they can stimulate the regrowth of nerves, carrying the potential to treat Alzheimer’s and help with treatment-resistant depression. Sadly, a lot of the research on mushrooms has been stymied for a number of reasons. In the words of Ronald Griffiths, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, “The movement to marginalize the major psychedelics is incredibly complex. I mean, it plugged in to a counterculture movement, an antiwar movement, an antiestablishment movement. But there are many, many forces that were at play.”

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

As a result of all these dramatic shifts in society in the 1960s, psychedelics became a scapegoat and much of the related research was halted and buried. But now, our worldview is changing. We’re gaining a new perspective on reality and psychedelic research is being revived. There are more and more opportunities to study the effectiveness of mushrooms, not just for medicine, but to filter water, create compostable packaging, and even to serve as raw material in the making of batteries.

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

Fantastic Fungi is something of a live-action fantasy film in the form of a documentary, with video game-level graphics that are alternately mesmerizing and slightly gross—sometimes both. The time-lapse footage is so visually stunning, it feels like it belongs in an IMAX movie. It comes as no surprise, then, that among the filmmaker’s many credits is the Soarin’ Around the World IMAX ride film at Disney Theme Parks. In fact, director Louie Schwartzberg is a pioneer in the field of 35mm time-lapse filmmaking, having devoted himself to the medium for nearly 40 years.

Schwartzberg was drawn to making a film about fungi for several reasons. “Fungi can clean the environment, heal our bodies, and shift our consciousness,” he writes in a director’s statement. “Yet the biggest discovery for me, beyond the science and challenge of making the invisible visible, is that they are the model for how life can flourish, a shared economy under the ground, an intercellular network that share nutrients for ecosystems to thrive. This modality needs to be brought from below to above the ground.”

"Fantastic Fungi" Is A Mushroom Movie Celebrating Spore-Producing Organisms
Courtesy Moving Art

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New Film Weediatrics Profiles Parents Trying To Get Cannabis For Their Sick Kids

More than half the states in the U.S. have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, yet it remains illegal on the federal level. Traveling across state lines with cannabis is still a federal offense, and even in states where it’s permitted, parents who want to administer cannabis compounds to their children still run the risk of unwelcome interventions from Child Protective Services, simply because there are minors involved.

Weediatrics: A Covert Medical Mission, produced by OAKZ Media, is a forthcoming documentary that addresses issues such as these, featuring interviews with a number of health professionals and advocates as well as a range of families in different states across the country. Their goal? To finally end cannabis prohibition once and for all—for the sake of the children.

Weediatics Offers an Unflinching Look Into Parental Sacrifices

Weediatrics follows an underground group of moms and dads who are desperate to treat their sick kids, whether they’re suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or other debilitating illnesses. When big pharma meds prove ineffective, and speech therapy and occupational therapy only go so far in treating the children, these parents turn to cannabis compounds, mainly CBD, to try to help their kids find some form of relief. But as the film clearly reveals, the hurdles still seem nearly impossible to overcome. Spoiler alert: one family in California was charged with “severe medical neglect” for treating their seven-year-old child’s epilepsy with CBD oil instead of heavy antipsychotic medication.

“The fact that the federal government is making us choose between breaking the law to help our child or watching them suffer is absurd,” cannabis educator Dr. Richard Temple says in the film. He continues to point out that the reason marijuana works is because it contains cannabinoids, just like the human body. “You have an entire endocannibinoid system,” he says. “You are a walking Schedule I narcotic right now. The difference is yours are made within your body. Marijuana and cannabis work because they simply enhance you own body’s system.”

Because cannabis is still a Schedule I substance (as opposed to cocaine and many opioids, which are Schedule II), studying the medical benefits of marijuana is stymied in the United States of America, where the war on drugs has curtailed formal research. What research has been performed on cannabis has focused much more on its side effects and addiction rate than its benefits. Thankfully, Weediatrics has the potential to change the public perception of cannabis from a stigmatized substance to an ingredient that has the potential to effect measurable health.

Currently, Weediatrics: A Covert Medical Mission is gearing up to hit the 2019/2020 film festival circuit before it comes to theaters. The film is directed by John Ehrhard, who’s produced live events for a range of influential figures, from Elton John to Margaret Thatcher and President Bill Clinton. “We didn’t set out to make a pro-marijuana movie,” Ehrhard says in a statement about his new documentary. “In a time where the country at large feels that there is so much progress being made in the legalization of marijuana, this film reveals the painful truth.”

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Willie Nelson’s Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug

To look at Jim Allison, you wouldn’t immediately think that he’s a Nobel Prize-winning immunologist. He looks more like a harmonica player, which he is, too. In fact, you can occasionally catch him onstage playing with his longtime friend, Willie Nelson. But as a new feature-length documentary reveals, Jim Allison is actually the reason why certain people with melanoma have their lives back. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, Jim Allison: Breakthrough features interviews with Allison’s family, professors, reporters, and colleagues, as well as a cancer patient who tried every kind of therapy without any success—until she tried Allison’s breakthrough drug, Ipilimumab.

Allison was born in 1948 and grew up in Texas, the son of a housewife and doctor. His two older brothers called him “diamond-head” for how hardheaded he was, referring to a trait that eventually served in Allison’s favor as a scientist. When not wandering in the woods playing his harmonica, Allison played with a chemistry set in his garage, with encouragement from his father—having lost his mother to lymphoma when he was only 11 years old.

Jim Allison looks at T cells/ Courtesy Malinda Allison

Allison graduated high school at the tender age of 16, heading to the University of Texas in Austin to study biology. It was in college where he learned the importance of perseverance and developed an interest in T cells, which are a central part of the body’s immune response, carrying receptors that have the ability to zero in on a diseased cell and vanquish it. As Michael Curran, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says in the film, “[Allison] was the first one to actually purify the molecule by which T cells recognize everything.”

In 1974, Allison moved to San Diego to learn more about the immune system at Scripps. That’s when he met Willie Nelson and brought him to a local dive bar to play live, developing a friendship with him that led to Allison occasionally playing harmonica in Nelson’s band.

Willie Nelson's Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug
Willie Nelson and Jim Allison in concert/ C3 Presents

Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Cancer Research at MIT, says in the film, “Part of Jim’s success is that he’s an iconoclast. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that he’s not following convention. He’s following his own thoughts, his own motivations. He’s willing to do it in the face of his colleagues not necessarily believing him.”

Meanwhile, Allison successfully spoke against a Texas bill opposing the teaching of evolution in public schools and was offered a full professorship at Berkeley. He theorized that cancer cells highjack CTLA-4 protein receptors and trick T cells into stopping them from attacking tumors. The theory led to Allison developing his drug, Ipilimumab, or “Ipi,” as it came to be known. But watching the film, one question immediately comes to mind: Was it more difficult to actually develop the drug or to get it to people?

“I think getting it to people,” Allison tells High Times. “There was a lot of well-deserved skepticism. Nonetheless, at a certain point, that became irritating. I can argue the points of the science. If somebody says, ‘Here’s another explanation for what you’re telling me,’ I can buy that. What I can’t accept is somebody saying, ‘It’ll never work, just because.’ That just, to me, is unacceptable. And I went through a couple of years of that.”

Willie Nelson's Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug
Jim Allison winning the Nobel Prize in 2018/ Nobel Media AB

Allison says that many people in the scientific community had the idea that “immunologists were just a bunch of voodoo agents selling snake oil,” which raises another question: Can Allison identify with cannabis researchers who are struggling to fight longstanding stigma, not to mention prohibitive laws against marijuana?

“Yeah, in some ways I can,” he says. “I mean, these are, in a lot of ways, difficult times to live in, with people thinking everybody’s entitled to their own facts. But you’re not. Facts are facts and data is data. I would just tell people, develop the data. The answer’s in the data. Having said that, I will add that you can look at it a number of different ways. Once you’ve got the data, take a step back and say, ‘OK, well, what does this tell me? Because my experiment may be telling me something else. That data that popped out may be telling me something about a question I didn’t even ask here.’ And the only way to find that out is just to look at it and think about it and view it as sort of a crystal. You hold it up to the light and look at it—how it refracts, how it changes as you look at it. Just keep an open mind and don’t just get limited to the narrow channels that most of us are trained to go down.”

Jim Allison: Breakthrough is in theaters September 27.

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From Psilocybin-Loving Psychologist To Modern Mystic: A Profile of Ram Dass

One of the country’s foremost self-help masters, Ram Dass is now 88 years old and in a wheelchair, still imparting wisdom while continuing to manage the dramatic after-effects of a massive stroke. Before Ram Dass concludes his journey as a human being on this earth, one of his devoted followers, Jamie Catto, wanted to immortalize him in a film. Becoming Nobody is Catto’s tribute to Ram Dass, capturing the essence of his spiritual teachings while offering a glimpse into his past.

Richard Alpert was born in 1931 to a Jewish family in Massachusetts. While religion wasn’t very compelling to him as a youth, he did exhibit an early interest in human nature, which eventually led to him earning a PhD in psychology from Stanford University. After Timothy Leary introduced him to psychedelics, Alpert went to India in 1967, where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, aka Maharaj-ji. That’s when he became Ram Dass (“servant of God”), and a few years later in 1971, his bestseller Be Here Now was published, catapulting him onto a full-fledged career as 20th century American guru.

The film’s director, Catto first learned about Ram Dass in 1988, then met him on a retreat in the UK a few years later. What followed were interviews that paved the way for a face-to-face discussion in Becoming Nobody, which took place in 2015 in Ram Dass’ home in Maui. The one-on-one interview anchors the biographical documentary, which is interspersed with archive footage, including words of wisdom by Ram Dass himself, carefully culled from an array of scratchy black and white films and glitchy videos.

Becoming Nobody doesn’t go into the life story of Ram Dass much — it’s more like a highlight reel of all the teachings he espoused throughout the decades. Still, Ram Dass talks about his long road as a seeker, discussing the implications of the time when Timothy Leary gave him psilocybin in the 1960s. “It changed my life in the sense that it undercut the models I had of who I thought I was,” says Ram Dass in the film. The scary yet exhilarating experience led him to a deeper understanding of his true being — not of who he was, but that he simply was, period. Ram Dass attributes this, in large part, to meeting his guru. “See, a guru is your doorway to God. Your doorway to the beyond,” he says in the film. “A guru is a spiritual vehicle. An entrance-way. He’s a pure mirror. He isn’t anybody at all.”

Neem Karoli Baba, aka Maharaj-ji/ Courtesy Love Serve Remember Films and Google Empathy Lab

After Ram Dass started to grow out his beard and lecture cross-legged, he began to discover that life’s lessons are embedded in the multifarious paradoxes that present themselves along the journey, specifically the idea that sometimes, true transformation comes from not getting what you want. Similarly, for Ram Dass, life’s low points can be more interesting than its high ones, “because they’re showing you where you aren’t.” He believes that too many of us operate under a model of deprivation, and that the idea of not having enough needs to be surrendered if we are to find true enlightenment. He’s big on suffering as a valuable experience, and believes that humor and love are key. He also believes that the taboo of death is wrong.

“The appreciation of death and the spiritual journey after death is the prerequisite for living life joyfully now,” says Ram Dass in Becoming Nobody. “Death does not have to be treated as an enemy for you to delight in life. Keeping death present in your consciousness, as one of the greatest mysteries and as the moment of incredible transformation, imbues this moment with added richness and energy which otherwise is used up in denial. I encourage you to make peace with death, to see it as the culminating adventure of this adventure called life. It is not an error. It is not a failure. It is taking off a tight shoe, which you have worn well. But those that find the way in the morning can gladly die in the evening, it is said in the mystical literature.”

In a filmmaker’s statement, Catto says, “The intimacy and trust that Ram Dass cultivates through his unabashed realness is a notable contrast to a commodified Western spiritual culture so often laden with self-proclaimed gurus. Above all, I wanted to capture the profound love that radiates from this man’s heart; his humanity and authenticity will allow future generations to be transformed by his wonderfully irreverent yet deeply holy practice of humor and heart.”

In theaters today, Becoming Nobody is presented by Love Serve Remember Films with Google Empathy Lab.

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The Life And Career Of Late Left-Wing Texas Journalist, Molly Ivins

A nationally-syndicated political columnist and author of seven books, Molly Ivins was a pickup-driving, beer-swigging Texan with a foul mouth who just so happened to be a liberal. Raise Hell: The Life and Times Of Molly Irvins is a new documentary that tells the story of the prescient woman who chronicled the country’s political trajectory from the 1970s until her death in 2007, all while somehow managing to keep a smile on her face.

An LA-based documentary film professor, Janice Engel was inspired to write, direct, and produce the film after she saw a one-woman show starring Kathleen Turner called Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. “I was knocked out by who Molly Ivins was, how she spoke and who she so brilliantly skewered,” Engel said in a director’s statement. “I also discovered on a much more personal level that both Molly and I shared a similar trajectory: a deep distrust of patriarchal authority and a need to stand up for the underdog.”

Spoiler alert. Even though Ivins was from Texas, she often called her home state the “national laboratory for bad government.” She believed that political fools were fair game, and that it was her duty to help show the American people who they really elected — especially president George W. Bush. As Rachel Maddow says in the film, “The people who Molly took apart were the right people to aim at, and they knew it. People who had power and misused it — those are the people who she aimed at.”

A shy bookworm of a girl, Ivins shot up to six feet in height by the time she was 12 years old. “I always felt like a St. Bernard with a bunch of greyhounds; a clydesdale among thoroughbreds,” she’d quip in her signature Texas drawl.

She wanted to be a journalist ever since she saw Humphrey Bogart play a newsman in Deadline — U.S.A. “I thought that wandering around the world, being paid princely sums to have fabulous adventures in exotic places sounded like a great way to make a living, and that was what I wanted,” Ivins says in the film.

The budding writer grew up in the south before Civil Rights movement and entered the world of journalism in the 1960s, constantly clashing with her conservative oil-executive father. After traveling to France and graduating from Smith College, she earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University and got job offer at the Minneapolis Tribune, where she was the city’s first female police reporter. She credited her height with getting the job. “It really does make a difference if you tower over your editors,” she said.

Ivins wrote a series of articles about protestors, “Who are the young radicals?” followed by another series, “Who are the young conservatives?” She was particularly proud of the fact that the Minneapolis Tactical Squad named their pig mascot “Molly,” even though it was probably meant to be an insult. All the while, she openly voiced her opinion that there was no such thing as objectivity. “How you see the world depends on where you stand and who you are,” she said. “There’s nothing any of us can do about that. So my solution has been to let my readers know where I stand, and they can take that with a grain of salt or a pound of salt, depending on their preferences.”

After she resigned from the Minneapolis Tribune, Ivins went to work at The Texas Observer in 1970, where she showed up for the interview with a six-pack of beer. The self-described “outsider journalist” was then asked to join the New York Times, where she walked around barefoot with her dog named Shit. She was assigned to write Elvis Presley’s obituary on account of her southern accent, then covered his funeral, referring to his lifeless body as a “plump corpse.”

Molly Ivins at the New York Times in Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Molly Ivins Collection, Briscoe Archives. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Ivins then became Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief for the New York Times, saying, “Great way to work for the New York Times is to be at least a thousand miles away from New York.” She then went back to Texas to work at the Dallas Times Herald, and appeared on David Letterman once her books started to appear on the New York Times bestseller list. At the height of her career, Ivins was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, drawing praise along with vitriolic letters, including death threats.

“One of the mistakes we make when we try to talk about politics in this country is we keep pretending that the political spectrum runs from right to left. It doesn’t. It runs from top to bottom,” she said. In that spirit, she always looked out for the so-called little people, i.e. those most affected by top-down politics.

While she stood up for those without a voice, Ivins contended with her own demons as well. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, but still went on the road to promote her book, and continued to smoke and drink heavily. The cancer appeared to be in remission and Ivins finally got sober, only to have the cancer came back and claim her life at the age of 62.

Today, Molly Ivins is remembered as one of the few journalists who had the courage to stand up to the powers that be, and speak the truth. It’s worth learning more about her in the new, well-deserved documentary, Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.

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Psychedelic Documentary Chronicles the 1960s Campaign Trail of a Pig

One of our country’s longest-running hippie communes, the Hog Farm was a ragtag group of free-thinkers helmed by Hugh Romney, later known as Wavy Gravy. Shortly before the Hog Farm set up an ad-hoc free kitchen at Woodstock, they conscripted a 300-pound pig named Pigasus to embark on a cross-country campaign trail bound for the presidential convention in Chicago, touting the pig as the so-called Yippie Party candidate. The whole thing was chronicled in The Hog Farm Movie, a 37-minute odyssey originally shot on 16mm film in 1967-1968, almost lost but now digitally restored in HD and finally available for public viewing on iTunes.

The Hog Farm Movie is far from a traditional documentary. An assemblage of nonlinear storytelling, the film is equal parts historical record, home movie, and surrealist fantasy—a hallucinatory trip back in time for a journey across America with a caravan of 40 painted buses and two geodesic domes—plus a band and a light show to boot.

One of the few complete, intelligible sentences uttered in the film is: “Leave your fear in the rear of the bus and play with us!” Indeed, the “documentary” reveals a kind of playground procession of medieval-like minstrels reincarnated into a gaggle of 1960s hippies, the soundtrack a pastiche of overlapping voices and animal noises, with trippy, disjointed music composed by none other than Jack Kerouac’s muse, Neal Cassady—among others. Tiny Tim makes an appearance, as Wavy Gravy prances about in an authentic jester costume. Even law enforcement officials in the film seem charmed by the group of free-spirited creatives, which included Paul Foster, an alumnus of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters who was employed as a computer programmer for NASA’s Apollo team.

Filmmaker David Lebrun directed The Hog Farm Movie, infusing a dose of philosophy mixed with anthropology into a moving portrait of a flock full of colorful characters. It’s also worth noting that Lebrun edited an Academy Award-winning feature documentary about the conflict between the Hopi and Navajo called Broken Rainbow (1985).

In the end, The Hog Farm Movie is virtually indescribable, making it required viewing for the student of psychedelia who longs to be transported back to an era when cutlery served as wind chimes, long-haired children played barefoot, and a pig actually ran for president.

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New Documentary Explores the Origins of Woodstock

50 years after nearly a half million people descended on a New York dairy farm for the three-day Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, the event has taken on a near-mythical place in our collective imagination, one that’s rooted far more in nostalgia than reality. Creating Woodstock is a feature-length documentary that goes beyond the overly-enchanted impressions the festival has garnered over the years, examining some of the less glamorous aspects of the monumental happening that nonetheless remains the defining event of a generation.

A drummer and Woodstock attendee, Emmy Award-winning TV producer Mick Richards wrote and directed the film. The story unfolds through rare archival material and three decades’ worth of interviews with the organizers, many who have since passed away. Judging by the models of the computers in the interviews, a lot of the recordings are on the older side, which makes the film feel as though it’s been around awhile, even though it’s only being released now. There’s also a lot of talking, which makes it more likely to appeal to die-hard music-industry geeks and rock historians than the average layperson. It almost feels like Creating Woodstock is pieced together from the recollections and reminiscences of wistful relatives who are continuously reliving the 72 hours between August 15-17, 1969. Still, what they have to say is interesting.

John Sebastian at the 1969 Woodstock Festival/ © Henry Diltz

Spoiler alert: By all accounts, Woodstock had all the defining characteristics of a potential disaster. The organizers had trouble securing a venue until Max and Miriam Yasgur offered their property. Then, with barely a month at their disposal, roughly a thousand people hurriedly worked on the festival’s infrastructure—preparing roads, digging wells, and installing electricity. Most days, it rained.

Originally intended only for about 20,000 people, Woodstock eventually required 500-plus acres for parking alone. Hundreds of thousands of audience members braved 20-mile traffic jams and a five-mile hike just to arrive to the festival, which lawmakers threatened to shut down by sending in the National Guard.

Richie Havens at the 1969 Woodstock Festival/ © Henry Diltz

Eventually, the organizers pulled it off. The permit came through only hours before the event officially began, and though a health inspector was called to the scene, because he brought his 15-year-old daughter who promptly disappeared, he went looking for her over the course of three days and never got around to inspecting.

Money is one of Creating Woodstock‘s recurring themes. Since the spirit was one of positive energy and goodwill, the festival went from being a ticketed festival to a free event. Even so, the film reveals that the Who wouldn’t play onstage until they got paid in cash, and at $35,000, Jimi Hendrix was the highest paid act, though he had trouble getting in. The rain fell and the stage started to slide down the hill, but Hendrix continued playing into the morning after what was supposed to be the end of the festival.

A view from the stage of Woodstock, 1969/ © Henry Diltz

Creating Woodstock doesn’t end there. Interviewees look back on the aftermath as well, including the massive cleanup effort, the dicey finances, the “tremendous smell,” and even a dead body or two.

While it’s very much a behind-the-scenes look at the festival, Creating Woodstock is full of interesting tidbits that make for worthwhile viewing. Plus now, a half century later, Woodstock’s role in American history is even more apparent, and therein lies the real value of the film. As Arlo Guthrie says in the documentary, “It’s a singular event in history.”

The aftermath of the original Woodstock Festival, 1969/ © Henry Diltz

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Ricki Lake’s ‘Weed the People’ Documentary Features Sonoma County Cannabis Oil Maker

In a scene from a new documentary, “Weed the People,” produced by television celebrity Ricki Lake, Sonoma County resident Mara Gordon and her husband, Stewart Smith, are at the stove in their kitchen, simmering ground-up cannabis in organic olive oil. They discuss what blend of marijuana strains would help a woman named Linda with stage 4 cancer, which had spread to her lungs and abdomen. The woman wanted pain relief but didn’t want a feeling…