Saturday, December 13, 2008

Waiting to Inhale screens at the Centre for Contemporary Art in the Ujazdowski Castle

I have screened and discussed Waiting to Inhale at Landmark Theaters E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., The Alamo Cinemas in Austin, Texas, at the Australian Film Festival and at many other venues across the world but this is the first time at a famous historic castle. The Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw Poland is now the Centre for Contemporary Art which features a variety of artistic endeavors including independent films like Waiting to Inhale. WATCH DOCS Film Festival, the Helsinki Foundation and the Open Society Institute turned out a full house for the film's premiere screening in Poland. Normally we do a Q & A or a panel discussion after a screening. This time I was interviewed by a highly regarded journalist who also fielded questions from the audience.

After 45 minutes of discussion a number of people in the audience joined Kasia, Alex, Marta and other Helsinki Foundation and Open Society staffers for more discussion, food and drinks at the nearby Blues Bar. It was a little for my guide and translator Marta and I to find it. The Blues Bar must have been built in a WWII bunker. It was in the park where the Ujazdowski castle is but it is underground.

They were holding me a seat in the center of the room so I could field more questions and discuss the film. After the second Q & A of the evening a group of marijuana activists interviewed me on video for their website. I hardly had time to enjoy the great pizza and local pils (beer) but I managed. Everyone was so supportive and enthusiastic about the film.

It was during the Q & A's that I began to realize that medical marijuana is a totally new concept in Poland. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs were not made illegal in Poland until 1992. According to my guides so called "bad drugs" did not exist during the Soviet occupation of Poland.

It is apparent that the Polish people have been heavily propagandized over the last 25 years. Most of the people are seriously uniformed about the difference between cannabis and drugs like heroin and cocaine. They are all lumped together. Now I understand why marijuana is considered such a taboo here. I was informed as soon I got here that no one smoked cannabis in public for fear of going immediately to jail.

Because of its isolation AIDS did not arrive here until the mid 1990's so people here missed out on my own experience, and that of many others who saw how cannabis helped people suffering from the Wasting Syndrome that killed so many AIDS patients prematurely. I want to find out whether people in countries other than the US, Canada and Great Britain know about AIDS, MS and other diseases that patients using cannabis can benefit.

1 comment:

Allen Bell said...

Hi Jed,

Glad to hear that the screening in Poland went so well. I hope you have happy holidays and a great new year.

Best wishes,