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FILM PRESSURE DROP
"Eat My Shorts" showcase to feature medical marijuana thesis film at prestigious Montreal comedy fest's first annual film series in late July.
June 6th, 1997 - Montreal, Canada -- "While watching it I had the impression I was watching an early Woody Allen." These are the words of Jean Guerin, co-ordinator of The Montreal Just For Laughs Festival's "Eat My Shorts" international short film showcase.
Mr. Guerin, who organized Montreal's successful Japanimation Festival in July 1996, was quoted in a recent Westmount Examiner article highlighting Marc Ostrick and Ezra Soiferman's 18-minute NYU thesis film, PRESSURE DROP. The film has just been selected for screening along with twelve other "offbeat, twisted and extremely funny" shorts from countries including the USA, France, England, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium and Canada.
In addition to Just For Laughs, PRESSURE DROP has also been invited to screen in San Francisco at the Old Vic Theater, opening for the film "Weed" (July 21st) and in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (Mid-November).
Montreal and Los Angeles based Mensch Films' which produced PRESSURE DROP in 1994 has seen tremendous interest in its short film since it was produced in Professor David Irving's Color Sync Workshop in 1994. The film, starring Felix Fibich as a 72-year old Jewish grandfather who opts for a controversial marijuana treatment to save his failing vision, has been show at over a dozen film festivals worldwide. At NYU, it was granted a Warner Bros. Pictures Film Production Award and in years since it received awards in New Orleans, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.
"The success of PRESSURE DROP as a short film has allowed us to follow through with our original plan of taking the film to 'the next level'" said the film's co-creator Ezra Soiferman. "Marc and I have together created the script for the feature film version of our thesis and are setting off an adventure to bring a brand new PRESSURE DROP to a wider audience than the short could ever reach."
Whereas in the short film Fibich, who plays Morris Potashner, riles up the anger of just his wife with the pot treatment for his glaucoma, in the full-length PRESSURE DROP Morris and his hippy senior citizen smoking buddies are cornered by the media, police, government authorities and the citizens of the USA. Together, the five stoned-out members of the 'Pressure Drop Club' must turn public scorn and a legal nightmare into positive vibrations and defend their surprisingly effective cannabis cure.
To support the short film and provide information on the feature and the issues pro and con about marijuana as medicine, an interactive web site for PRESSURE DROP was launched in late April, 1997. The comprehensive site, which has received seven design awards including one for non conformity, features cartoons and hand-drawn artwork by Los Angeles actor and cartoonist Osgood Perkins.
Created by Mika Goodfriend and Ezra Soiferman with technical design by Mr. Goodfriend, the Pressure Drop Web Site is colorful, enriching and upbeat. "The issues we deal with humorously in PRESSURE DROP can be very depressing if looked at in certain ways. What we tried to do with the site, like we did with the film, was put a bright, fresh face on these issues," explains Ezra Soiferman.
"Let's face it, the film is about a man going blind - normally a bit of a downer - but the marijuana treatment he takes to save his eyes not only helps his vision but also makes him feel young again. We set out from day one to have that as the subtext for the web site, and I think that's what makes it work so well."
Before it opened to the public, the Pressure Drop Web Site had among its testers two senior citizens, both women in their eighties who have come face-to-face with glaucoma, a disease which raises the intraocular pressure in the eyes, damaging the optic nerve irreparably. One of the women recently lost the vision in her right eye as a result of a stroke and suffers from chronic glaucoma in her left eye. Earlier this year, the second octogenarian lost her ninety-year-old husband, a retired embroiderer who lost the vision in both his eyes from the disease.
"We wanted to make sure seniors could figure the place out, so we invited a few to take it for a whirl," said Soiferman. "After all, it's them along with college students and all the ex-hippies and neo-hippies out there who are the primary targets for PRESSURE DROP. These two particular testers were thrilled by it and they'd actually never used the Internet or computers before our session. It was pretty wild."
After reading up on the subject of medical marijuana at the Pressure Drop Web Site, the two women had much to say about the treatment which has been the subject of much controversy lately. Each offered written testimonies at the Eye Say... section of the site.
One wrote, "If doctors would take it up as a legitimate option in lieu of operations which sometimes do not work, it might give a lot of people a new hope against this terrible disease." The other carefully typed the following message, "I feel that if marijuana smoking helps these elderly people live a kinder and less painful life, more power to them. Let them smoke the marijuana to their hearts content."
Users of the Pressure Drop Web Site who leave testimonies will be entered in a draw to win free autographed copies of the original short film version of PRESSURE DROP on August 10th, 1997.
The short film version of PRESSURE DROP plays twice a day (four times on the weekend) between July 23rd and July 27th at The Montreal Just For Laughs Festival's "Eat My Shorts" Showcase. For details on screening locations and times, please call (514)845-2322. For details on San Francisco and Philadelphia screenings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pressure Drop Web Site can be accessed on the World Wide Web at www.pressuredrop.com.
Contact the creators of Pressure Drop here
"JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE" CONFRONTED BY PRISON AUTHORITIES DURING MONUMENTAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA TREK TO OHIO STATE CAPITAL
Marion, Ohio - May 29th, 1997 -- Today, Thursday, on the fourth day of a 140 mile wheelchair trek from Oregon, Ohio to the Ohio state capitol building in Columbus, the participants in the "Journey for Justice" had their first confrontation with law enforcement officials.
The pro-medical marijuana patients, with two in motorized wheelchairs, have received support from crowds gathered along their route, including donations of cash and offers of medicine. The medicine, marijuana, offers have been politely refused.
After reaching their motel in Marion, most of the patients, who are protesting federal and state laws criminalizing patients and their doctors who recommend or use medical marijuana, visited the Marion Correctional Institution, a state facility.
The Institution houses about 2,100 medium security male inmates. A minimum security correctional camp is located on the grounds.
Upon arriving on the roads of the institution the group, which is called the Journey for Justice, was promptly surrounded by prison officials from two prison trucks, followed shortly by two Ohio State Highway Patrol cars. Kay Lee, the group's spokesperson and organizer, stated that they were first threatened for videotaping the institution. It was evident that the prison officials were very concerned that the inmates could read the pro-medical marijuana signs on the support vans and were waving, since the many of the inmates are serving marijuana violation sentences. Kay Lee stated that at least one prison official was extremely hostile, seeming to have no idea that he was close to violating the group's rights.
The State Highway Patrol officials threatened to search the group and were informed that the group had nothing to hide, as they were engaged in a constitutional effort to petition their government for rights which should be afforded all doctors and patients. When search dogs were called for, the group announced that the vans could not be searched without a warrant, and the police decided to abandon bringing the dogs. Ms. Lee said that the highway patrol officers talked about a flyer posted at their headquarters about the group. "The Highway Patrol officers were proper in their conduct, if not friendly." She said. Ultimately the group was allowed to return to their motel.
Ms. Lee announced that an advanced party of the group was planning to reach the capitol building, traveling down High Street, between 1:00 and 3:00 pm Friday. "A number of the group members wish to speak with their representatives before the legislators leave for the weekend," Ms. Lee stated, "so we adjusted our plans to accommodate them."
Numerous media organizations have contacted the Journey for Justice, and every effort will be made to accommodate all interview requests on High Street and at the state capitol entrance.
A spokesperson for the group may be contacted at their motel at (614) 389-5552 room 112 Friday morning until about 10:00 a.m.
The group will be staying at The Cross Country Inn on the north side of Columbus Friday evening and can be reached by calling Kay Lee at (614) 764-4545.