LOS ANGELES, Calif. — New Love Films and Oaksterdam University are proud to announce the feature documentary American Pot Story: Oaksterdam took home the prestigious ”Unstoppable” Audience Award on Jan. 26, 2023, after its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival, Jan. 20-26 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah. Part of the festival’s annual Sparky Awards, the Audience Awards are among the most coveted because they are voted on by Slamdance attendees, reflecting fan favorites and setting the stage for future film festival appearances and commercial success.
Oaksterdam University Chancellor Dale Sky Jones attended the Slamdance premiere with her husband, Jeff Jones, and their three kids. Both are featured prominently in the film and participated in surrounding events. “This film proves Margaret Mead correct that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” said Jones, after whipping up the audience into shouts of support to end cannabis prohibition at the close of the panel.
American Pot Story: Oaksterdam tells the unknown origin story of how a handful of underdogs risked everything to spark the current worldwide revolution in cannabis policy. Reflecting Oakland, California’s rich history of civil resistance, these early cannabis advocates opened the first-ever cannabis college, Oaksterdam University, and got Prop 19 — a measure to legalize cannabis — on the state ballot, thus bringing the taboo topic into the mainstream and opening a conversation about its social justice impact.
Award-winning critically acclaimed filmmakers Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus of New Love Films spent a decade following this small group of rebels, including Dale Sky Jones, and Oaksterdam University Founder Richard Lee. Also in the film are Actor and Advocate Tommy Chong, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Leafly’s David Downs, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)’s Diane Goldstein, Neill Franklin and Kyle Kazan (Glasshouse), and many others.
“It was an honor, a privilege, and a great civics lesson to follow this roller coaster ride over the years,” said director Ravit Markus. “We thought we would film a revolution in one year but found out change takes much longer. However, it was worth it because we captured a major historical shift and the moving personal stories of those changemakers.”
Utah nonprofit organization TRUCE hosted a panel discussion on “How Advocacy Shapes Policy” with LEAP’s Executive Director Diane Goldstein, Prison Reform Advocate Weldon Angelos of The Weldon Project, and TRUCE’s founder Christine Stenquist and Vice Chair Valerie Ahanonu. TRUCE also hosted an after-party with Dragonfly Wellness at Salt Lake City’s Purgatory Bar.
“After a career in policing, I’ve spent the past 12 years working to dismantle the War on Drugs,” said LEAP’s Goldstein. “Few policies in our history have done as much damage as this racist and ineffectual set of laws that have distorted the goals of the justice system and criminalized millions of Americans needlessly and counterproductively.
“American Pot Story captures more than Oaksterdam and Prop 19. It is an accurate reflection of how our drug war fails all Americans. Yet, this story also gives us hope and provides us with the inspiration to effect change. Advocacy matters!”
American Pot Story: Oaksterdam will be screened at film festivals throughout the year.