Luka Oleksyshyn's High Landz is the antidote to Murder Mountain, the exploitative 2019 Netflix series about mayhem in California's Emerald Triangle where the best marijuana in the U.S. is traditionally grown.
Oleksyshyn, who's Ukrainian, brings a fresh approach to this belabored subject. He hangs with a bunch of hippie growers, following the season from seed and clones to harvest. The cannabis cinematopgraphy is luscious, from brights greens to deep purples.
Unlike last year's Lady Buds, the subjects don't complain much about the current legalization situation where wholesale prices have crashed and some farmers are bailing out altogether. They just plug away, knowing that a police raid is just around the bend in the snaky roads that criss-cross Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties as well as Southern Oregon. One crafty grower has several plots so if one is hit, the others will be there.
Oleksyshyn attends local events like Reggae on the River, which is no longer happening. But mostly he digs in with the growers and trimmers who take big chances to produce another illegal crop. It appears that all of the growers featured are not paying for licenses and remain in the illicit market.
"I fell in love with this culture," the director explains near the end of the 79-minute documentary, which he narrates. "I discovered way more than just the high. I discoverd a landful of opportunity. I went for the weed, but what I really found was my pirate family - my ganja smokers, my real brothers and sisters."