To legalize or not to legalize

To be or not to be: The students from last summer’s documentary class showed their completed coursework, “To Be or Not To Be: Maraijuana in Oklahoma,” on Jan. 24 at the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan. (Below) McKenzie Talley, Producer Komantcia Jones and Chelsea Putney pose for the festival’s red carpet. The students worked on their project for eight weeks.

Photo courtesy of Charlene Belew

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

For one group of Cameron students, “To Be or Not to Be” is still the question.
After a successful showing on July 22, 2014, at Cameron Theatre, the CU documentary class hit the trail to the Trail Dance Film Festival on Jan. 24 at the Simmons Center in Duncan.

Review

The best aspect of the film was the fact that it provided an unbiased look at the legalization of marijuana in Oklahoma, and the interviews showed that. The crew did a phenomenal job talking with proponents of both sides and showing the strengths and flaws in both sides’ arguments.

The movie contained no narration – mainly interviews with police officials, senators, dispensary owners, activists and other people inundated with the issue. The filmmakers interspersed stills of quotations and numerous cuts of B-roll throughout the film as well.

Overall, the documentary was a fantastic effort in the technical aspect. The editing crew took care of most, if not all, of the problems the cast and crew spoke of after the initial screening. The sound was clean in nearly every scene, and the shots were tight with crisp transitions. Though the music did not always fit with the situations at hand, it still set up appropriate scenes for the interviews.

There was one other small con on the technical aspect, but it could just be nitpicky or preferential; the occasional scenes of an interviewee preparing and smoking weed in various ways interjected awkwardly in a few instances.

That being said, it did not take away from the feel or meaning of the film. It did, however, add an interesting juxtaposition to the rest of the film, showing the actuality of imbibing the substance amidst everyone else talking about it.

Where the documentary really shined, however, was in the storytelling realm. The lack of narration was a great choice on the part of the production staff, since it let the interviews and scenes speak for themselves – an important aspect given the film’s subject matter.

The diversity of the interviews helped provide this unbiased approach. While some Oklahoma politicians declined interviews, the insight from within and outside of the government painted the pictures of the issue in a way that taking one side could not accomplish.

Furthermore, the group did a good job following up with facts that have been updated since the core documentary finished production. Though they still could use additional revisions to account for new legislation, the crew did a great job keeping the audience informed.

Expect more updates and fine-tuning of facts before the film makes another appearance on screens.

However, it does take a bit to get into the swing of the movie. The initial scenes, though not dull or uninformative, do not hold the viewer’s attention as well as other scenes throughout. That said, as the film moves along, the viewer stays glued to the screen.

As a whole, the film was a great effort from the class and did a fine job painting the picture of legalization in Oklahoma. Regardless of position on the issue, the documentary gives substantial information from both sides that can help inform any opinion on the topic.

Without a doubt, “To Be or Not to Be” is worth a watch for those who want to stay updated on marijuana legalization.

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