When Roger Larry was considering a subject for his new documentary he wondered, “How do I make a documentary about a character so interesting so I won’t be bored even when I’m doing press five years later?”
Five years after beginning Citizen Marc, his look at outspoken cannabis policy reform activist and Prince of Pot Marc Emery, he remains fascinated by the topic.
“What really what drew me into Marc were the contradictions,” he says. “I was looking for a subject who was facing crisis in the present tense and had a very complicated personality so there were contradictions to wrestle with.
“As we got into the subject more, certainly I was struck by the contrast between what I considered to be truly impressive acts of civil disobedience, a willingness to put his ass on the line and this tremendous ego. I began to suspect the two were very much connected because Marc is one of the most successful Canadian activists ever and I just don’t think it is a coincidence he has this ego.”
Larry and his partner Sandra Tomc agreed Emery was a compelling subject, but also a divisive one. “Is he just an egomaniac or is he a great activist? We ourselves had different points of views on Marc. We tried to assemble the most cogent arguments on both sides of that question.
“What you are seeing is the fruits of five years of arguments.”
Emery and his wife Jodie, however, aren’t happy with the way the activist is portrayed. “Marc has read the transcript but has not seen the film,” says Larry. “Jodie has seen the film. They’ve gone nuts on twitter and facebook attacking the film.”
On October 16 @JodieEmery tweeted: “The “Citizen Marc” movie: sloppy amateur film that manipulates & edits interviews & omits important facts because director hates Marc Emery.”
“In response to that I would say that I have a great deal of respect for Marc Emery,” says Larry, “that I think he has made a great contribution to Canadian society. I’m interested in how his dark side, his ego, had helped him to achieve that. A lot of public figures don’t enjoy the way they are portrayed in the media because we are not just giving the spin. We’re trying to look behind the curtain as it were. I would also say this is a documentary where we shot over a thousand hours of footage, which is very unusual, and so, yes, we edited it! It is true. I will concede that point. We did edit the film. I would have had trouble with that thousand hour running time.”