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Rebecca Richman Cohen talks about what it takes to make honest film and the responsibility of the filmmaker.

REBECCA RICHMAN COHEN’S FILM Code of the West jumps into the heated debate over Montana’s medical marijuana policy by following the legislature’s action on a bill to repeal the law.

To tell the story, Cohen navigated a charged landscape of facts, as well as fictitious information presented as fact.

According to Cohen, the filmmaker’s job is to untangle all of the elements and present each with the weight it deserves.

“You don’t present two things in the same way if one of those things is right and one of those things is wrong, and you have a responsibility as a journalist, or a filmmaker, or a story-teller to correct information that is factually incorrect.”

Watching the film, I saw the way she presented different, opposing viewpoints, and then backed up the facts with hard evidence.

An example of this came when someone opposed to the marijuana law said, on camera (and very convincingly), that teen marijuana use “skyrocketed” since the medical marijuana law took effect. In the next frame, Cohen presented a graph from an independent study showing that teen use actually decreased since the law was enacted.

Nothing blatant–no shouting rebuttal–just a simple graphic that showed the study’s findings.

This honest story-telling knocks the wind out of the sensationalists’ sails.

Video created by Eric Warren.

Journalist Interviews


About The Author

eric warren

Eric is a travel writer, photographer and filmaker with an unhealthy love for all things transportation.

  • Matt

    As if graphs or statistics are ‘Honest” Im not taking sides here…but statistics are not at at all unbiased although people like to pretend they are…if they agree with the results.

  • Matt

    “Nothing blatant–no shouting rebuttal–just a simple graphic that showed the study’s findings”
    First let me say I am in favor of legalizing these drugs. However…these arguments are weak . Come on…this implies that the volume or “blatancy” of an argument determines its validity. This is a joke. no?  Lets not pretend that the style of discourse determines the validity of the argument. 

  • Eric Warren

    Great comment. You’re right about statistics being just as un-objective as any other piece of information presented by a story-teller. I may have over-simplified how the information was presented in the film. It was PRESENTED as more factual in the film than the spoken comment, and that was Cohen’s point in the interview.
    She sees her job as a filmmaker to tell a story presenting the information as factually as she can through her human and un-objective point of view.

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