[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]O[/dropcap]rganizers of the first New York City Cannabis Film Festival in 2015 hoped to reduce the stigma surrounding the cannabis narrative through promoting cannabis positive art and artists via this festival. It is mind-boggling to think that the promoters’ and organizers’ hard work might have paid off and this year’s festival might be the last before New York itself legalizes cannabis.
“I think this is just the beginning, and I think this is a very exciting time we’re in,” Michael Zaytsev, the founder and CEO of High N.Y., who organizes the annual festival, told CBSN on Saturday. He said even though the first event was well-received by the cannabis community in 2015, a lot of filmmakers were still hesitant to participate given the stigma surrounding cannabis. “I think people were excited, but there were still filmmakers [who] were not coming out the way they are now, where I think they think it’s safer and they don’t mind having their name out there attached to this festival,” Zaytsev said.
Recently New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his legislative agenda for 2019, which included his plan to legalize recreational cannabis. If his agenda comes through, New York’s legalization would not only cause a momentous shift in cannabis culture in New York, but change the face of cannabis nationwide.
The films that are generally showcased in the festival tackle various topics with a focus on shattering the stereotypes depicting the present cannabis culture. This year, the film “Bodega” explores how gentrification is altering the role of the ubiquitous corner delis in New York communities. The film received an honorable mention for best documentary short at the IMDB Film Festival.
Zaytsev said he chose to show “Bodega” because it highlights the impact of commercialization, a major concern in the cannabis community.”Just as we are seeing this paradigm shift in cannabis culture, and there are these questions of gentrification of the community and the industry and the commerce of cannabis,” Zaytsev told CBSN. “I think the bodega kind of mirrors that in a way that is interesting to see and I think a lot of the audience would be able to relate to.”
The festival took place on Jan. 13 in New York City, New York.