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5 Question with Mitch Dickman, director of Rolling Papers

The film Rolling Papers is full of high energy, and so is the film’s director, Mitch Dickman, who was as laid back and forward thinking as one could imagine. We spoke with Dickman fresh from the premiere of his film at SXSW, where he spoke to us from up on a balcony, and he spoke about what makes his film so rollicking.

Canadians, on the whole, don’t really have an issue with pot.

Right. I mean, that’s what the film tries to show what it’s like. But yeah, I agree. People who are in it don’t really have a problem with pot, and at one point, kind of a working title was Normalize, and that’s really what it’s become. I’m really proud of Colorado and how they’ve handled it. I think that, you know, we’re a civil society, for the most part. The sky didn’t fall and people aren’t dying and od’ing on marijuana. It is bringing money into the state, and it is what it is, man. I think that this is where things are headed and hopefully that is what the film shows.

So what is the problem?

That’s a great question, man. I think that there is still a stigma around it. It’s gonna be controversial. It’s a work in progress. It’s going to take time for people to get over the stoner image, and all the propaganda, the reefer madness, all that stuff. But states are going to legalize, and at some point, I don’t think that the Federal government can stand on the sidelines, and keep it as a schedule one substance with cocaine and heroin and things like that.

At your premiere did you encounter anybody with an agenda?

If we would have made an issue film, then you’re inviting them to take a position. This was a movie, made to be fresh and surprising, and we just wanted to see what it was like afterwards.

Did you intend to include the sort of Wine Spectator element to the film?

There are a lot of really talented people, you know, one of our main characters was called the biggest weed dork in the world by Rolling Stone magazine, and one of those guys who in a blind taste test, I mean, we don’t really do it in the film, but he could tell you if it was a Cab or if it were a Merlot, if it was sativa, or if it was indica, if it was cured properly, that kind of geekdom over marijuana, that kind of stewardship, you know, it’s fun.

Was it your intention to make such a high energy film?

There’s so much good work being done in documentaries, and we wanted to bring something high energy and fun, but there’s a certain sort of roughness to it, because I didn’t know I was shooting this film last December. To make a film in fourteen months and have a premiere that quickly, you know, it’s loud, fun, and we want people to have a good time.

Rolling Papers screens Friday at 7 p.m. at Hart House Theatre, Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at the ROM Theatre, and Saturday, May 2nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre