Image: Frenchy Cannoli at Empress Farms, one of his favorite places on Earth (Courtesy of Kimberly Hooks)
If you miss Frenchy Cannoli (and let's be honest, WE ALL do), you have a chance to be a part of a powerful celebration this weekend if you're in the Bay.
On Sunday, July 10 — the high holiday of hashish! — the Marina Theater in San Francisco is hosting the premiere of Frenchy Dreams of Hash, the anticipated documentary chronicling California's regulatory transition from Prop. 215 to Prop. 64, and the evolution of the state's increasingly volatile cannabis market. The film follows Frenchy and some of the brilliant Emerald Triangle cannabis farmers he worked with as they grow cannabis, make hashish, and learn how to navigate the rocky terrain of legal cannabis. (Purchase tickets here!)
"The intention of the film is to highlight the ethos of sustainable farming and dedication to quality sun-grown cannabis shared by Frenchy and his farmers," says Jake Remington, the film's director in a press release. "During filming, California's cannabis industry experienced waves of change that negatively affected and threatened the livelihood of the small farmers Frenchy worked with. This maelstrom of bureaucracy and hypocrisy forms the context of the film in which Frenchy and the farmers' fight for quality — and survival — intensified."
Remington began filming the doc in 2016, a time when Prop. 215 still reigned, but Prop.64 loomed on the horizon. Since then, the cannabis landscape in California — and across the United States — has drastically changed. Now, small farmers around the state (but particularly in the Emerald Triangle) are struggling to keep their farms profitable due to an orchestra of issues, ranging from over-taxation, the illicit market, over-regulation, a massive price collapse, and more. It's questionable whether the tectonic shifts of the past five years are genuinely in the best interest of small businesses in the industry.
California's governor Gavin Newsom just eliminated the cultivation tax in an attempt to give small farmers a chance to regain their bearings. Many believe the damage has already been signed, sealed, and delivered. "Unfortunately, the mistreatment of small cannabis farmers is still happening today," says Remington, "and, with the release of this documentary, we hope to bring awareness and change to the situation."
Kimberly Hooks, Frenchy's widow and long-time cannabis activist, helped produce the film and is leading the event this weekend. She says that when Frenchy died, several groups of people volunteered to add different subtitles to the film. The documentary will soon be translated into six languages. "We've got it in Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and English," Kimberly tells MERRY JANE. "Now that the film has generated a little bit of money, I can pay them a bit to professionally do the subtitles. This has been a silver lining in a sense, if you can think of a loss like this having any positivity, but somehow with Frenchy there was always positivity."
Sunday also marks the launch of the Frenchy Cannoli Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to furthering the pursuit of initiatives Frenchy and Kimberly were both passionate about. 20% of proceeds from all film screenings will go to the Origins Council, a nonprofit advocacy association serving 900 licensed small and independent cannabis businesses in six legacy-producing counties throughout California. The Origins Council will use the money to support their project with the Lost Coast Farmers' Guild of Humboldt County to research and develop the petition to establish one of the world's first legally recognized cannabis appellations.
In the film, Frenchy says, "Mendocino could become the Bourdeaux [region] of the cannabis industry worldwide." Essentially, that's what the Guild's cannabis appellations project would help formalize.
Kimberly, who was married to Frenchy for 42 years, explains that the Lost Coast Farmers' Guild is doing studies around terroir and appellations that she and the Frenchy Cannoli Foundation will support. "We want to make sure that they have the funds to be able to do this correctly because funding is everything when you want to move something like this forward," says Kimberly. "Understanding the science is extremely important. Frenchy always felt there was a cannabis terroir and now if we have the opportunity to prove it through the support of their efforts, we're really interested in making that happen."
Kimberly has plans to take the documentary to different cities around the world. In September, she will screen it at the Grow Up Conference outside of Toronto, Canada. She is also putting the pieces together for a showing in Spain at Spannabis and at the CannaExpo in Uruguay in December. Thanks to her and the team of people who brought Frenchy Dreams of Hash to life, Frenchy's legendary spirit lives on.
"Frenchy's love for the plant and the farmer is contagious, so I hope it'll open up a few minds," Kimberly says. "It will preach to the choir for most who will be there on Sunday. For them, it's a love message from Frenchy."
The Marina Theater: 2149 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123.
Purchase tickets here.