Year of Mari©huana (Rok konopí)
Press Release: A new feature-length documentary on marijuana hits Czech cinemas
Despair, pain and fear of death made them quit the official medical treatment and start using hemp, or marijuana products. All at once they found themselves on the edge of law, in some cases even beyond it. A new feature documentary Year of Mari©huana directed by Petr Slabý features a voyage full of hardship undergone by patients and those who make hemp medicine, as well as the attitude of healers, scientists and activists confronted with the attitude of legislators. This film premieres in the Czech cinemas on April 19.
„It is not just a film about hemp but mainly about matters of life and death, personal freedom, humbleness and faith, necessary civic disobedience, mysteries of science and especially about self-awareness, mankind and its ways to overcome itself and its weaknesses,“ says director Petr Slabý. The film was shot in the Czech Republic and Israel where healing effects of hemp have been studied for decades. It also contains footage from a conference about hemp in the parliament or from Million Marihuana March 2010 and so-called Hemp Revolution. The filmmakers with their cameras were also present at a lawsuit with psychotherapist Dušan Dvořák who was convicted for growing and distributing drugs.
The film premieres in the time when long-expected legislative changes are about to take place in the Czech Republic and hemp should become available for medical and scientific purposes. Thus Year of Mari©huana will gain a very up-to-date social-political context. The film voices opinions which say that these changes cannot be considered a big victory because the bills do not regard chances for patients to grow hemp for their own treatment. It means that even suffering people will be dependent on official pharmaceutical products only.
„From the very beginning there was no intention to determine the film in any ideological or propagandistic way. People's destinies are far more important than dogmas. All this led to a kind of positively hybrid format which oscillates on the verge of a narrative documentary and para-journalism. Inward stories mingle with political and revolutionary clichés, opinions of scientists, medical experts and patients,“ adds Petr Slabý.
Year of Mari©huana will be screened for the very first time on April 18 at Academia Film Olomouc. After its premiere in Prague it will be screened all over the country. Many screening will be accompanied by discussions with filmmakers and the people cooperated in the film. For more information go to www.rokkonopi.cz or to www.facebook.com/rokkonopi. Trailer can be viewed at http://youtu.be/0sG2SQjXsb4.
About the film
This 90-minute long documentary Year of Mari©huana is interwoven with reflections of human rights, freedom of an individual and his role in society which punishes a demonstrably non-commercial production of hemp while so-called hard drugs can be easily obtained on just about every corner of any bigger town. The viewers will get to see a mosaic of opinions, life stories, facts and myths and the conclusion they make is their choice.
The filmmakers managed to get four patients ill with cancer and multiple sclerosis to take part in this filming. This crew led by director Petr Slabý and director of photography Jaromír Kačer filmed their journey from the moment they quit classical medical treatment and started using hemp in years 2010 – 2012. The film presents oncology patient Eva Šarounová for whom hemp meant the last option to save her life, multiple sclerosis patients Philip Polívka and Ivana Rosová and another oncology patient Milan Špaček who quit classical treatment despite all the warnings given by his doctors.
Another important person presented in this documentary is psychotherapist and founder of Hemp Is a Cure company Dušan Dvořák who decided to study the healing effects of hemp already in 2000. This documentary also depicts the lawsuit in which Dvořák is being charged with growing hemp for medical purposes. This case has not been closed yet and Dvořák is facing another charge this April. In March 2012 he was charged with unauthorized production and other handling psychotropic substances and toxins for the third time. Healer and chemist Libuše „Bushka“ Bryndová is another important person featured here, as well as clinical psychologist and member of Visita theatre Pjér la Šé'z who is also presented here as a philosophical guide and the author of the powerful music to this film.
The authors of this film cooperated with notable international experts in hemp healing effects such as professor Lumír Hanuš (a Czech scientist who currently works in Israel), professor Raphael Mechoulam (the discoverer of THC, rector of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem). As early as the 1960’s and 1970’s professor Hanuš examined the healing potential of hemp during his studies at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Palacky University in Olomouc and currently he is the most quoted Czech expert in this field, here as well as abroad. Year of Mari©huana not only presents interviews with both these scientists but also features the current situation in Israel where patients are given hemp products for free on the basis of a license.
The film crew also visited experts who deal with possibilities of research and application of hemp in our country. Thus the documentary will present opinions of people like Tomáš Zábranský M.D from The Centre for Addictology of the Psychiatric Clinic of the 1st Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The film also contains footage shot at Million Marihuana March and during so-called Hemp Revolution on November 17, 2010. This topic is also discussed here by politicians like David Rath M.D, Radek John M.A., or Tomáš Julínek M.D.
How the film came to existence
This documentary was born after a meeting of producer Jan Hrnčíř and Rick Simpson, a Canadian who is prosecuted for possession and selling marijuana in his country and immigrated to the Czech Republic. Here he holds public discussions where he talks about miraculous qualities of hemp and cites tens of cases in which hemp cured cancer. „At the time when I met Rick I was diagnosed with a tumor in my right eye,“ recalls producer of this documentary Jan Hrnčíř. „This encounter was crucial and the words he was saying were almost unbelievable.“
From October 2009 Jan Hrnčíř started meeting people who were interested in the healing effects of hemp and he gradually disclosed the whole width of the topic: „After many encounters with seriously ill people who used hemp with demonstrably positive effects I decided to invest my own financial means in a documentary which objectively seeks the truth about hemp and its healing effects.“
Hemp is a plant which has been accompanying humankind for thousands of years and its effects have been used in many fields of human life. Thanks to its positive and multiple effects it has been often used in medicine. Its potential was doubted only in the 1950’s in the United States where hemp was labeled marijuana by politicians and it got to be presented as a dangerous drug which must be fought against.
Year of Mari©huana tells a story of seeking a personal freedom of every individual, of their right to decide about his/her health and at the same time it reflects the absurdity of the current setting of the medical system. At the beginning of March 2012 in the Czech parliament there took place a seminar of healing effects of hemp which brought this topic into a wider awareness in the whole country. On December 8, 2011 the expert committee of the Government Council proposed to the Prime Minister some bills enabling changes in using hemp for medical purposes. These changes made it possible for hemp to be accessible for medical purposes. However, these bills did not contain the possibility for the patients to grow hemp for their own treatment.
Currently there is an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental expert group appointed by the chair of the House of Commons, Ms. Miroslava Němcová, which proposed legislative changes to the Government. Due to a disapproving attitude of the Secretary of State for Health Leoš Heger, the Government took a neutral stand on this issue and formulated 10 factual comments on the bill. The proposal was opposed by the Czech Association of Pharmacists in several points. The expert group currently works on alterations of the parliamentary proposal.
Philip Polívka, Ivana Rosová, Milan Špaček, Eva Šarounová, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Tomáš Zábranský, Radek John, David Rath, Tomáš Julínek, plk. Jakub Frydrych, Mgr. Dušan Dvořák, Prof. Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, Libuše „Bushka“ Bryndová, Pjér la Šé'z, Jack A. Cole, Rick Simpson, Neri Barak a další
Directed by: Petr Slabý
Produced by: Jan Hrnčíř
Story: Jan Hrnčíř
Screenplay: Jan Hrnčíř, Petr Slabý, Pjér la Šé'z
Dramaturgy: Ivan Arsenjev
Cinematography by: Jaromír Kačer
Edited by: Lucie Haladová, Viktor Schwarcz jr.
Sound Department: Michal Gábor, Michal Holubec
Original Music by: Pjér la Šé'z
Contact Person for Media:
Silvie Marková, Smart Communication s.r.o.
T, F: +420 272 657 121
M: +420 604 748 699
Distriburtion in the Czech Republic:
Jakub Němeček, Aerofilms s.r.o.
M: +420 775 920 082
Video on YouTube
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