Stoners killing time during social isolation can now stream SPLIFF Film Festival, made just for them by people who also smoke weed, from the comfort of their own couch.
The festival features 23 films, no more than four minutes and 20 seconds long, and explores how weed effects people’s imagination, appetites, libidos and creative energies.
Last week, SPLIFF organizers announced all screenings were cancelled and the entire festival would be available online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will also allow audiences to watch the short films again if they were too stoned to remember the first time, festival executive director Tracey Cataldo said in an email.
The festival is put on by the same team that created Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival, an amateur porn festival that celebrates all the ways sex brings people together.
People might be stuck at home right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t call up their friends on Skype or Zoom, rip a bong and watch the festival together, Savage told Mugglehead in an email.
“Pot helps people connect socially, as does art. And pot and art — and, yes, we think SPLIFF is art — can still play that role in our lives, even if we aren’t able to get together in the same space right now,” Savage said.
This is SPLIFF’s second year and Cataldo said each year the team received just under 200 submissions. The 2019 lineup is available to be screened for now while festival organizers figure out how long festivals, or any large gathering, will be banned.
“We love hosting big public events and bringing people together and we really hope social distancing doesn’t become our new norm,” Cataldo said. “With that said, we will continue to explore the idea of making online streaming available for cities we are currently aren’t screening in.”
SPLIFF normally screens in Seattle and Brempton, WA, Portland, OR, and San Fransisco, CA, but is available to stream around the world, though “we’re not sure about whether someone in Dubai should risk it,” Cataldo said.
Films compete for cash prizes for trippiest, funniest, stupidest and best in show, with prizes running from US$2,000 to US$5,000, and the winners are chosen by the audience.
Cash prizes have already been given out to the 2019 winners, so revenue from streaming ticket sales will go to the festival’s film makers as a bonus, Cataldo said.
Streaming tickets run from US$5 to US$15, and audiences are asked to pay what they can.
‘Our favourite part is hearing the laughter’
So, how did audiences like the inaugural year of SPLIFF?
“The audience loved SPLIFF! We received such creative and funny film submissions from so many talented independent artists,” Cataldo said. “We couldn’t wait to share the final lineup of films with a larger audience. One of our favourite parts is hearing the laughter or gasps during a sold-out screening.”
“We’d like to think people are laughing or gasping just as hard on their couches right now.”
So far, Cataldo said she has been surprised by the creativity of submissions and the community that has formed around the festival.
Movies feature everything from trippy space cats to a deeply pleasing ode to making a sandwich with ASMR crafting, or an autonomous sensory meridian response, which is designed to send shivers of pleasure down your spine.
“These days making a film doesn’t have to require fancy high-tech equipment. We are all carrying around a video camera with us at all times so it’s easier for anyone to submit a film to SPLIFF,” Cataldo said.
Deviled eggs, tiki torches and bike pumps
To prove the film was made for SPLIFF, directors are asked to include three special items, which for the 2021 submissions includes deviled eggs, tiki torches and a bicycle pump.
Submissions for the 2021 lineup are open till March 5, 2021.
In North America a lot of time and money has gone into reducing the stigma around cannabis use. SPLIFF battles stigma by bringing people together and showing people stoners are a diverse group.
“But our primary goal is to entertain,” Cataldo said.
It’s important to remember, especially while the world needs everyone to stay home and isolate, that there are still fun social things people can do, Savage said.
“Enjoying something at the same time your friends are — and video chatting about it or Tweeting about it — has the power to make us feel less alone. Because it reminds us that we aren’t actually alone,” he said.
Top image via SPLIFF Film Festival.