Looking for something to watch in an altered state? The SPLIFF Film Festival is streaming

by Nick Gonzales

If you’re like us, you love film festivals — but you’ve probably noticed that, generally speaking, they’re full of heady, indie films that try to push you into deep introspection on the human condition. In other words, they’re stacked with movies almost specifically designed to harsh your mellow. Well, it turns out that there’s also at least one film festival perfect for watching while baked.

The SPLIFF Film Festival consists of short films (with a maximum length of 4 minutes 20 seconds, naturally) made by stoners, for stoners. In one way or another, each film examines or celebrates some aspect of cannabis, its effects, or its place in culture — or at least that’s the loose idea. Some of the shorts are just entertaining, vaguely weed-related abstractions.

The festival, which had its first annual screenings last year, shows its films in theaters in Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Washington in April and May because some of the larger showings are on April 20. (Look, stoners have one special number that everybody knows, and they’re going to use it every single chance they get.) April wasn’t a great time to pack into theaters this year, obviously, so they moved the festival online.

We were going to watch it back in April, but then we got … *writer distractedly begins humming Afroman song …* Hmm? Oh yeah, uh … anyway, it’s still online and seems like it will be indefinitely. If you’re so inclined, you can watch both the 2020 festival and the 2019 festival. The ticketing system allows you to choose your own price of admission — between $10 and $20 for this year’s festival, and between $5 and $15 for last year’s. The tickets allow you to screen the festivals (the 2020 one runs about an hour and 20 minutes) for a whole week, which comes in handy just in case, you know, you find yourself unable to remember watching them the first time.

The 2020 festival is hosted by drag queens Betty Wetter and Cookie Couture and features 22 films. Here are a few of our favorites:

• “Triptych” — This film, which won the audience award for Trippiest Film, is just a delightful piece of audio-visual art. It was the only one that we rewound so we could experience it a second time. The festival program describes it as “intense, eye-melting space travel projected through multiple lenses in an Escher-esque universe.” Uh, sure. We’ll go with that.

• “Follow the Sun” — This animated short starts off in the vein of one of those old-timey “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” concession ads until everything goes wrong and it spirals into madness. It’s one of the few ostensibly horror-themed entries.

• “Deb’s Divorce Party” — In an effort to prove that she is the undisputed queen of last hits, Deb finds herself transported to another level of existence. This one won the Funniest Film award.

• “All Hail the Void” — Another horror short, this film follows some skaters as they try a new strain called “astral shit” and it begins to change them.

• “Random Panic Attacks” — This Taiwanese animation follows a character’s love-hate relationship with modern technology. And it’s set to a pretty cool score.

• “Cleaning Day” — A music video in which a lingerie-clad woman smokes so she can do some chores, but inadvertently summons a tiny trash goblin instead.

To prove that the films were created specifically for SPLIFF, the organizers ask the filmmakers to incorporate a few specific props into their entries. If you want to enhance your experience of the 2020 festival — beyond the way you were already going to enhance it — place a large platter of deviled eggs in front of you before you press play. Trust us.

Nick Gonzales


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