Cannabis & Happy Accidents
Chris J. Russo, Sue Taylor, Chiah Rodriques and Face2Face host David Peck talk about their new film Lady Buds, Cannabis, big business, trailblazing, racism, sexism, happy accidents, the war on drugs and our authentic selves.
More about the movie here.
See it at Hot Docs 2021
Following the widely praised 2016 decision to legalize cannabis in California, six courageous women emerge from the shadows to enter the new commercial industry. As farmers, entrepreneurs and activists, these modern-day pioneers find their initial optimism is quickly replaced with uncertainty and fear as the new legislation favors deep pocketed corporations. Those who shaped the foundations of the cannabis industry for decades soon find themselves struggling to fight for their piece of the American Dream in a market they helped create.
Lady Buds features second-generation cannabis farmer Chiah Rodriques, 72-year-old African American retired Catholic school principal turned dispensary owner Sue Taylor, Latinx queer activist Felicia Carbajal, serial entrepreneur Karyn Wagner, and Humboldt elders The Bud Sisters. Their stories speak to the many opportunities and issues facing commercial cannabis today: the complicated dynamics of raising a family on a cannabis farm, the ongoing fight for those adversely affected by the War on Drugs, educating seniors citizens about the healing power of cannabis, and honoring the LGBTQ activists who fought for legalizing medical marijuana over 25 years ago.
At every turn these trailblazers defy stereotypes, while revealing that cannabis is much more than a plant-it's a community.
ln her feature debut, award-winning filmmaker Chris J. Russo offers an insightful journey into the lives and work of the women who are the backbone of the cannabis culture in California. Their struggles and triumphs paint a picture of an industry in fux as it grapples with preserving its storied heritage while looking toward the future.
About Chris, Chiah and Sue:
Chris J. Russo's award-winning short films have screened all over the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, and have been broadcast on Showtime, PBS, lFC, LOGO and NETFLlX. She is a 2018 fellow of the Sundance lnstitute/Women ln Film Financing lntensive with Lady Buds, and is also a fellow of Film lndependent's Director and Screenwriters Labs, with her project, Directed By Dorothy Arzner. Notable short film credits include, A Woman Reported, about the moments before a hate crime occurs; Size 'em Up, a coming of age story; Straight Down The Aisle: Confessions of Lesbian Bridesmaids, winner of the Outfest Best Short Documentary Award for its poignant view on marriage non-equality (pre-Prop 8); and numerous music videos.
After receiving two art degrees in Photography - a BFA from the University of Buffalo and MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY - Russo moved to Hollywood and worked for Kodak for 15 years and as a Post Production Supervisor on over 15 feature films. Russo is an exhibited fine art photographer, with recent group shows in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. She has dedicated the last four years to producing and directing Lady Buds, her first feature film, which will be having its World Premiere at Hot Docs 2021.
Sue Taylor is a 72-year old retired Catholic school principal whose mission is to open the first cannabis dispensary for seniors citizens to offer alternatives to pharmaceuticals. As an African- American businesswoman in a white, male-dominated industry, Sue presses forward despite financial concerns, repeated delays and the frustrations of dealing with the local bureaucracy.
Chiah Rodriques grew cannabis plants under blackberry trees and hid from federal helicopters growing up. As an adult and second-generation farmer, she's lived most of her life in the shadows until California legalized cannabis, which offered her the opportunity to become a permitted cultivator. With the price of weed dropping and a leap of faith into the unknown, Chiah must find balance between working on the farm and parenting her two sons amidst the harsh financial pressures of legalization.
Image Copyright and Credit: Chris J. Russo.
For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.
With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.
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