With one new film, SIFF goes to pot



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Posted on June 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 6 at 10:36 PM

SEATTLE – It was a political debate that made good theater. A group of Seattle filmmakers now hope it will translate on the screen.

“Evergreen: The Road to Legalization in Washington” debuted Thursday night at the Seattle International Film Festival. The nearly 90-minute documentary follows both sides of the campaign last year surrounding the initiative to legalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.

Nils Cowan and Riley Morton say they bankrolled the project out of their own pockets and spent more than a year trying to tell the story of I-502. The filmmakers followed travel writer Rick Steves, I-502 campaign chair Alison Holcomb, and medical marijuana patients who campaigned against the initiative. They also caught a couple heated conflicts along the way.

“If this was a historic moment, we wanted to capture it,” Cowan said shortly after the film screened for working media. “It was an interesting political process to see.  Love it, hate it, critique it, it is an important message to a lot of states are going to have to deal with it.”

“It has the potential to change the world,” said Morton. “This will be a turning point.”

The filmmakers got an assist from some of the editors behind the documentary “Sonicsgate”, including Jason Reid.

“It’s a little different than basketball, but not entirely different than basketball,” said Reid, “Mostly because politics has been a big part of this story, and politics have been a big part of the Sonics story over the years.”

State leaders are still trying to determine how the process of licensing and distribution will work.

Cowan and Morton say that’s why they feel the timing of the film’s release is important, and will stir debate going forward. “This is all kind of percolating right now, and seeing the laws change and written right in front of our eyes.”

The film will be shown again Saturday at SIFF.