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Film Synopsis

Continents apart from one another, two farming families aim to reinvent themselves on their land. One family—a strong-willed French matriarch and the son she raised among her vines—tends a centuries-old, biodynamic vineyard in the South­ern Rhône. Across the ocean in Humboldt, California, another family—a brash father and his more reserved son—carefully manage a state-recognized, organic cannabis farm. The feature documen­tary WEED & WINE interweaves their stories, urging compar­isons and teasing out contradictions between France’s revered winemaking traditions and the artisan culture emerging along­side the legal cannabis industry.

Director’s Statement

WEED & WINE was conceived in 2016 out of a pursuit of personal pleasure. In the end, it was born in spring 2020, a moment of profound global uncertainty, as the world hung on the edge of pandemic, and families returned to each other for safety and solace.

When I began developing the research that would become the film, I imagined a cinematic love letter: a lush meditation on two plants whose relationship to people and place is layered and dynamic. French philosopher Roland Barthes wrote in 1957 about wine as a receptacle of cultural mythology in France—a product rich in symbolism, steeped in and inextricable from French identity. “Wine is felt by the French nation to be a possession which is its very own, just like its three hundred and sixty types of cheese and its culture,” he wrote. “It is a totem-drink, corresponding to the milk of the Dutch cow or the tea ceremonially taken by the British Royal Family.”

So too, I thought, with cannabis. Located somewhere on the American cultural spectrum between criminal and counter-culture (though headed quickly toward the mainstream), cannabis in the United States is more than a plant, or a medicine, or even a drug. It is the badge of outlaws and outsiders. It is a rebuke of America’s Puritan seriousness. It is medicine and spiritual rite, precious and mysterious even as it is mostly ubiquitous. And yet, unlike wine in France, cannabis enjoys no national pride of place, no patriotic reverence.

I was drawn to the narrative power inherent in this juxtaposition between weed and wine: two emblematic plants, one honored and protected, the other outlawed.

At the outset, I knew that my “way in” to the stories of wine and weed would be through their growers. The most fun set of research trips I will likely have in my entire career led me to the Jodreys in Humboldt County and the Thibons in the Rhone Valley. Each family lived in its own culture so deeply: they were as much unique products of their land as their plants were. I watched how they brimmed with love, in all its glorious complexity, both for their craft and for each other. And through these visits, another storyline emerged.

Some families have parents who march off to an office or a factory each day, and whose children have no intention of—indeed no path to—inheriting a generational vocation. The Jodreys and the Thibons were strikingly different. Like fewer and fewer of us in the 21st century, their relationships and their livelihoods were tightly tethered to each other. Heaped on top of the difficult and uncertain work they did as farmers was the work they did as parents and children. That work—in all its pain and beauty—became the overarching story I couldn’t ignore.

And then a twist came in my own family life. After more than three years of development and production, I became pregnant with my own first child. As I finished the film, I also prepared for her birth, and she was born five days after the film was complete. In the credits, she is thanked only as “TBD Richman Cohen,” as her name was still to be decided on the day the credits were locked. The end of WEED & WINE—with all of its meditation on the relationships between parent and child—marked the beginning of my life as a parent.

Watching the film now, with my infant daughter sleeping on my chest and my aging parents beside us—all of us together as we weather the first weeks of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States—I see that a film that I thought would be about the historical symbolism of two powerful plants is also about the fragility and power of our present moment. The Thibons and Jodreys taught me that the anxiety and guesswork of farming is also matched by its wonder and beauty, and that parenting is much the same. A labor of love and exhaustion. A project of courage and fear, perhaps in equal parts.

In the end, I hope WEED & WINE is a reminder that none of us—farmer, consumer, parent, child—is stronger than the cultural networks of which we are a part. Heritage dramatically impacts how we view the plants we consume. It shapes how we celebrate or marginalize the growers who cultivate the them. It determines how we perceive the people we define as farmers and artisans.

So too does age, time, culture and circumstances shift our perceptions of parent and child. Of how we will answer the age-old question of whether it is the parents who raise the children, or vice versa, or both. Of independence and interdependence. Of competing and complementary notions of freedom. Of how to grow and flourish in a world rife with change.

For me, making this film was at first a lesson in the importance of interrogating and redefining my own understandings of wine, cannabis, family and farming—thereby perceiving each anew through the lens of this story. Perhaps it will also be that for you.

Today, it also feels like the love letter I first intended: not only to wine and to cannabis, but to the preciousness and precariousness of family—and the lifelong project we all must take to care for each other in the face of uncertainty.

—Rebecca Richman Cohen
Spring 2020

Filmmaker Bios

Rebecca Richman Cohen

Director & Producer

Rebecca is an Emmy-nominat­ed documentary filmmaker and, since 2011, a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Her direc­torial debut, WAR DON DON (HBO), won the Special Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival and was nominated for two Emmy Awards. Salon called her second feature, CODE OF THE WEST (America ReFramed), “one of the best movies about America’s drug war.” In 2016 she produced UNTOUCHABLE, which won the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rebecca was pro­filed in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces in Independent Film as an “up-and-comer poised to shape the next generation of indepen­dent film.” She is the founder and principal at Racing Horse Produc­tions. In addition to Harvard, she has taught classes at RISD, Ameri­can University’s Human Rights In­stitute, and Columbia University. She was a 2012 Soros Justice Fel­low, a 2015 Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, and a 2019 fellow at Harvard’s Film Study Center. Rebecca graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School.

Alysa Nahmias

Executive Producer

Alysa is an award-winning film­maker and founder of Ajna Films. Her work has been shown at fes­tivals and exhibitions worldwide, including the Venice Biennale, Sundance, SXSW, and the Ber­linale. Alysa’s directorial debut feature, Unfinished Spaces, won a 2012 Spirit Award, numerous film festival prizes, and is in the per­manent collection at MoMA. She recently directed and produced The New Bauhaus, a feature documentary about artist, designer, and educator Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Alysa produced the Sundance Jury Award-winning documentary Unrest directed by Jennifer Brea. Alysa’s producing credits also include: What We Left Unfinished direct­ed by Mariam Ghani; Shield and Spear directed by Petter Ring­bom; and Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq directed by Nancy Buirski with creative ad­visor Martin Scorsese; and the scripted feature No Light and No Land Anywhere directed by Amber Sealey with executive producer Miranda July. Alysa is a 2019 Sundance Momentum Fel­low. She holds degrees from New York University and Princeton University, and she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Lauriane Jussiau

Executive Producer

Lauriane is part of the award-winning French production company Faites Un Voeu, where she has been developing and producing documentaries since 2013. She worked on the award-winning Netflix-original documentary SOUR GRAPES by Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas co-produced with Met Film (UK)(Arte France/Netflix/VPRO/SVT/DR/NRK/YLE) which follows the story of the world’s greatest wine fraud. Other documentary productions include BURMA, THE POWER OF MONKS by Joel Curtz and Benoît Grimont (ARTE France/Public Sénat/KRV-VPRO/Deutsche Welle and supported by Lagardere Foundation, world premiere in FIGRA), a film about the process of democracy in Myanmar through the eyes of Bouddhist monks. And she is currently working on the production of THE JUMP by Lithuanian director Giedré Zickyte (France 2, Vosges TV, SVT, YLE, LTR), which tells the story of a Lithuanian sailor, who made a 10-foot jump from a Soviet fishing boat onto a U.S. Coast Guard ship in pursuit of freedom. Lauriane has been a key creative force on WEED & WINE since the beginning of development.

Graham Boyd

Executive Producer

Graham is an attorney, consultant and scholar, specializing in politi­cal efforts to reform drug laws and reduce mass incarceration. He has recently served as a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC think tank Third Way and at Stan­ford Law School. Graham advises a group of philanthropists who fund the majority of the cannabis reform efforts currently sweeping across the United States. He has played a guiding role in opinion research, legal drafting and cam­paign design for cannabis reform measures throughout the United States and abroad, including the recent legalization of cannabis in Washington State, Colorado, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan, as well as in the nation of Uruguay. Previously, Boyd was the founding director of the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project. He litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts across the nation, resulting in reforms in sentencing, racial profiling, medi­cal marijuana, police practices and alternatives to incarceration.

Nathaniel Hansen

Editor & Co-Producer

Nathaniel is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody award-winning producer, and an active director, cinematographer, editor, and educator. The Boston Globe has called his feature documentary work “outstanding,” and since 2009, his work has screened at hundreds of film festivals world-wide including Tribeca, SXSW, Hot Docs, Camden, RiverRun, and Independent Film Festival Boston, in addition to being featured online by sites such as the New York Times, the LA Times, The Atlantic, Vimeo Staff Picks, National Geographic Shorts, Quartz, and PBS. He leads the Visual Storytelling Lab for young media professionals in the Balkans, and is a frequent lecturer and workshop-lead for the US Embassy in Tirana, Albania. He received his MFA in Visual & Media Art at Emerson College, where he is an adjunct faculty member, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on the business of art and media practice.

Eric Phillips-Horst

Director of Photography & Co-Producer

Eric is a director, producer and cinematographer based in New York. Some of his featured work includes broadcast television (PBS, History Channel, Biogra­phy Channel, MTV, Nickelode­on, Arte France), documentary and independent festival circuits (Sundance, Tribeca, LA Interna­tional, CPH:DOX, Rotterdam, Rooftop Films) and numerous online syndications (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, TED, IndieWire). He was the principal cinematographer on STRAY DOG, which A.O. Scott called “passionate cinema verité” and the Village Voice wrote “cap­tures scenes of rare power.” He was also a director of photography on WELCOME TO PINE HILL, BRASSLANDS, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR and 5STAR. Eric is a founding member of both Meerkat Media and the Brooklyn Filmmak­ers Collective.

Myra Boutros

Associate Editor

Born and raised in Beirut, Myra earned a Master’s degree in Filmmaking and Television production with honors from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts – University of Balamand. During her time in Lebanon, she wrote and produced two comedy shows that aired on national television. Returning to her first passion, she began a career as an editor, working on international commercials, corporate videos, music videos, movie trailers, short fiction films and documentaries. During this time, she also instructed editing classes at her alma mater in Beirut. In 2012 Myra moved to Boston, where she worked as an Assistant Editor on shows including PBS American Experience and American Masters — and worked as an Associate Editor on several independent, award-winning feature documentaries and PBS Nova. Myra is fully trilingual and has edited movies in English, French and Arabic. She best describes editing as her “happy place.”

Caitlin Boyle

Consulting Producer

A pioneer of grassroots distribution for independent films, Caitlin founded the boutique firm Film Sprout in 2009, becoming a leading champion for the distribution of documentary films in community settings, and an advocate of film’s power to effect social change from the ground up. Throughout Film Sprout’s decade-long tenure, Caitlin engineered audience engagement efforts for 50 feature documentaries, including PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND, FED UP, TRAPPED, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, and WHOSE STREETS, among others. In 2018, Caitlin sold Film Sprout to social impact agency Picture Motion. Prior to Film Sprout, Caitlin worked in documentary film and radio production, including on the production team of WIDE ANGLE, the foreign affairs film series hosted by Bill Moyers and produced by WNET, and as a reporter and news announcer at NPR affiliates WFUV in the Bronx and WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. A graduate of Columbia University and the Media School at Indiana University, Caitlin lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Catherine Siméon

Consulting Producer

Catherine is a producer at Faites un Voeu, a company she joined in 2010 after working for many years at film festivals. She is currently the Head of Documentary and in charge of international development. Her producing credits include Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas’ acclaimed theatrical documentary Sour Grapes which follows the story of the world’s greatest wine fraud (ARTE France/Netflix/VPRO/SVT/DR/ NRK/YLE), Joël Curtz and Benoît Grimont’s Lagardère’s film, Burma, about the power of the monks about the process of democracy in Myanmar through the eyes of Bouddhist monks (ARTE France, VPRO, Deutsche Welle). She is currently co-producing The Jump by Giedré Zickyté (France Télévisions, LTR , Vosges TV, SVT, YLE, WDR, MDR), telling the story of a Lithuanian sailor, who made a 10-foot jump from a Soviet fishing boat onto a U.S. Coast Guard ship in pursuit of freedom, and Irak’s Invisible Beauty by Sahim Omar Kalifa (ARTE France, CANVAS, AVROTROS, Al Jazeera, YLE), the portrait of Irak and his hidden culture through a man who photographed his country before it was destroyed. Catherine is also the head of APARR, a regional French association of producers. Catherine has a master’s degree in philosophy and in cultural management from the University of Burgundy, France.

Music

Max Avery Lichtenstein

Original Score

Max Avery Lichtenstein is a film composer whose melodic sensibilities, understated arrangements, and creative recording techniques infuse a special character into the movies his music accompanies. Max has scored all of Racing Horse Productions’ feature documentaries (War Don Don, Code of the West, Untouchable & Weed & Wine) and has written scores and songs for critically-acclaimed narrative features such as James Marsh’s The King, Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven, and the film adaptation of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. His scores can be heard in renowned documentaries including the Academy Award-nominated Mondays at Racine, the Emmy-winning Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists, and Jonathan Caouette’s groundbreaking autobiography Tarnation. His latest projects include The World Before Your Feet (produced by Jesse Eisenberg) and the Maria Irene Fornes biography The Rest I Make Up. In addition to composing for film, Max records and performs under the name Camphor.

Juniore

Original Songs

Juniore is still growing up.

After nearly three years of touring countries across the world, their new record “Un, Deux, Trois” will be released early 2020.

Recorded by Samy Osta, the album is full of their distinctive tones, a flavorful mix of genres and the delicate roughness that defines Juniore. The new tunes continue to explore the future as 60’s France hadn’t quite imagined it – an improbable encounter between Brigitte Bardot and the mad world of the B-52’s. Songs that recount the modern world in everything that makes it anachronic. With cool ballads to slow-dance to, uplifting rhythms to twist, Juniore tells stories of falling in and out love, light and heavy-hearted urban tales, sweet and sour apocalypse and new beginnings—the sort of “Yéyé noir” that makes Juniore.

Always nostalgic, but never retro. With their discreet charm, Juniore isn’t afraid of paradoxes. Lead by Anna Jean, the band of garçonnes isn’t simply feminist or only female. A whimsical creature performed with them for years and like tarot cards being shuffled, for the new album, Juniore will be three on stage—“Un, Deux, Trois”. Anna Jean sings in a monotonous and velvet voice and shares keyboards and guitars with the electric Samy Osta, while Swanny Elzingre is radiant and full of sensual force at the drums.

Made in France, made by hand—Anna writes songs, plays them with Swanny and Samy brings them to life. She sketches the images and puts together the videos with the help of friends. The three work and travel and play together like school mates, (nearly) adult friends.

While French Yéyé, Françoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot, never seem far, it doesn’t sum up Juniore. A contemporary sense of urgency has infiltrated their songs, through the subtle lyrics and delicate melodies—like the soundtrack of a dream-beach-horror-romance-road-movie, inspired by the fantastic magic of Sergio Leone, Romero, Carpenter, Tarantino or Jodorowsky and the ordinary madness of the Nouvelle Vague. Juniore explores specific issues with universal values, music as a language and a form of storytelling, in a dimension where all the mixes and matches are allowed.

In 2014, the first two 7 inch records were released, followed by an EP in 2016. The first album Ouh Là Là (Le Phonographe/A+LSO/SONY) was released in France in 2017 and Juniore toured countries across the world – France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and the UK.

The album “Magnfique” was released on the English label Outré during the summer of 2018 and was voted “Album of the Day” by the BBC. With 13Artists, Juniore opened for Miles Kane and The Dandy Warhols during their European tour in 2018/2019.

Juniore’s music has been used for commercial films and series (including “Good Girls,” “Killing Eve,” and Hermès).  The band appeared in the film “Les Fauves,” directed by Vincent Mariette, with Lily-Rose Depp, shown in cinemas in 2019.

During the summer of 2019, Juniore collaborated with writer, director and producer Rebecca Richman Cohen on the soundtrack of her latest documentary film, “Weed & Wine” — a bi-continental story of land producers transmitting their knowledge and savoir-faire to their younger generations, following two families over the course of two years:  wine-makers in the South of France and cannabis cultivators in America. The documentary film will be shown in cinemas and festivals across the world in 2020.