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September 01, 2011

Collaborating for the Cause

By Colette


Robert Lang

I recently had the privilege of meeting with the talented folks over at Kensington Communications that created RAW OPIUM: PAIN PLEASURE PROFITS, one of the documentary projects Hello Cool World has been involved with over the past year.

I was eager to sit down with producer Robert Lang and Kensington’s social media lead Amanda Connon-Unda to get a full update.

Kensington first approached Hello Cool World (HCW) last fall looking for strategy advice on self-distributing their film. In May, we worked with Kensington to host the world premiere of RAW OPIUM at DOXA and to strategize grassroots outreach across North America.

About Raw Opium

A feature length documentary (and two-part TV series) directed by Peter Findlay, RAW OPIUM challenges our assumptions about addiction and the 'War on Drugs'. Travel to Afghanistan where farmers grow it and soldiers destroy it. See how raw opium feeds the lucrative heroin market. Meet users struggling to combat addiction halfway around the world. Accompany health-care workers in Europe and North America on the front lines in their battle to end this war that consigns so many to jail. Or death.

Kensington is independently launching RAW OPIUM in theatres across North America, the UK and Europe and so far the results have been amazing.

With funding support from the Soros Foundation, they have successfully connected with several organizations that will host RAW OPIUM screenings and panel discussions on the local and international impacts of drug policy.

RAW OPIUM also caught the eye of former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss when it aired on Arte back in May.

During an interview on Vatan Radio 106 FM Dreifuss recalled that she had seen ‘a fantastic documentary named Raw Opium,’ after she was asked about the mass media’s coverage of the drug trade in Tajikistan.

The former President went on to say that she especially appreciated the remarks made by the UN’s Christer Brannerud on drugs and crime. The film shows Brannerud commenting on how the European Union must take responsibility for the demand side of the drug trade.

In my conversation with Lang, he explained what he hopes people will take away from the film.

“The war on drugs has not and is not working,” says Lang. “It is my hope that RAW OPIUM generates a healthy debate around drug policy and harm reduction.”

The position of Lang and RAW OPIUM’s strategic partners is that drug use should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

For more information on drug policy and harm reduction, check out RAW OPIUM’s organization partners at the links below:

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a US-based organization made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of the USA’s existing drug policies.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society.

Drug Policy Alliance, a US-based organization promoting alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Raw Opium on Screen

Selected out of over one thousand entries by The Economist Film Project, RAW OPIUM will be featured as one of the first twelve independent world issue documentaries on the Economist and PBS NewsHour websites. A special 8-minute clip from the film will air on PBS NewHour, September 29th.

Cinema Politica, an international non-profit network of community and campus screenings will be organizing a screening at Victoria's Camosun College on September 22nd. Cinema Politica is in talks with Kensington about the possibility of organizing screenings across Canada as well.

Cinema Politica successfully delivers independent art to
the eyes and ears of the public."

and Executive Producer of SURVIVING PROGRESS

We at Hello Cool World are huge Cinema Politica fans. We met their founder, Ezra Winton about seven years ago when he was involved with uberculture. Uberculture helped us tremendously during the launch of The Corporation with our Montreal outreach efforts.

We wish Kensington continued success with their RAW OPIUM theatrical release and ongoing outreach efforts.

 ~ Colette & the Hello Cool World Team

To find out more about RAW OPIUM and to join their mail list, visit

RAW OPIUM on Facebook. Follow RAW OPIUM on Twitter @RawOpium

Tag(s): Hello Cool World, Strategy, Blogging, Film Launch, Middle East, geopolitics, Social Justice, Poverty and Economic Justice, Peace and Justice Issues, Harm Reduction, health promotion, Distribution, Raw Opium, Arts and Culture

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Colette joined Hello Cool World team back in 2003 and was a key organizer for The Corporation and The Take's grassroots outreach efforts across North America.

After being inspired by the organizing and awareness building potential of the internet and social issue films, she returned to school to study Communications and sharpen her skills.

Once graduating, Colette returned to Hello Cool World once again as a grassroots campaign consultant. She is now the Director of Distribution for Hello Cool World's new fair trade distribution arm.


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