Kellie Butterfield Dodds is the proud CEO and founder of the 2nd annual Cannabis Film Festival, an event held in Garberville, California on April 23rd and the 24th that presents movies featuring cannabis, whether it is a documentary, comedy, drama, short film or anything in between. “This is my baby. I am very grateful that I am able to present a ‘Hollywood meets Humboldt’ festival that presents cannabis with a level of professionalism that is a different face than the usual weed events,” says Dodds.
When Dodds moved from the Los Angeles corporate world to Humboldt County, deep in the nexus of the Emerald Triangle, she was already an accomplished businesswoman with a few successful multimillion dollar enterprises on her resume. “I relocated with my partner and spent twenty-five years enjoying the culture out here,” she says. “I wanted to bring a different perspective.” That means presenting an event that shows films which present cannabis in a sophisticated manner that draws respect as opposed to the usual cartoonish events that present cannabis as a punch line to a joke. “Last year we presented a film called Midnight Delight, set in an afterhour’s party at a lounge in some metropolis. People meet, smoke and joint, and just communicate.”
Set in the verdant evergreen that is the forested Eden of Northern California, the 2nd Annual Cannabis Film Festival offers participants, vendors, attendees and celebrities to enjoy an event that is as close to nature as it is far from the city. “The event is still very Humboldt, very casual. We’re not black tie yet, but there is an open invitation to anyone in the industry” Dodds says. “I am modeling this after the Sundance Film Festival, but set in an open air town that is very natural, very beautiful. You get to walk around in the fresh air, eat great food and hang out with fun people next to a redwood forest.”
The Cannabis Film Festival is a way for filmmakers to present their art with both the people who enjoy their art and the people who present it. Dodds has worked to go beyond the normal cartoonish cannabis movies to show films that present cannabis in a positive light that will serve to entertain as well as inform. “It is an opportunity for local film makers. We are a festival for independent film makers that want to attract distributors and supporters. One of our judges is also a producer in Hollywood that helps in the event. We have very professional criteria for how we judge films,” she says. “We offer an award for the best film based on what the judges pick, and then there is a viewer’s choice award where the audience votes. Afterwards, everyone hangs out with the creators and provides feedback.”
Dodds is assisted by a group of people known as “Team Awesome,” including her partner Cheryl Voutour, who has spent a decade farming organic cannabis in the Humboldt area after moving from Orange County, where she was successful in the mortgage industry. Also included is Bobby Black, former Senior Editor of High Times Magazine, and presenter during the awards ceremony.
What makes the even unique in comparison to other Hollywood awards ceremony is that it will be 420 friendly. “We have a huge smoking area and even a doctor on site who will qualify you.” Existing to woo industry executives with the big bucks to fund films and mentor young creators, Dodds is proud of the event’s incredible VIP lounge. “We only have room for one hundred people in the lounge, and we offer lavish accommodations, luxury catering and a professional dining experience.”
Her dream is to expand the two day event into a weeklong affair that could someday be presented internationally. “We learned a lot in our first year. We built a commodity that is now valuable. Next we are going to turn it into a global event,” Dodds says.
You can find additional information, including ways to participate in the event as a film maker, vendor or more, at www.cannabisfilmfestival.com.