Aaron Biebert, the self-taught director of the award-winning A Billion Lives documentary, has returned with a new Kickstarter project for a documentary entitled You Don’t Know Nicotine. Whereas A Billion Lives aimed to take “a critical look at the history of smoking, and the corruption that’s led to the current situation where safer, healthier alternatives are banned or heavily restricted in most countries,” You Don’t Know Nicotine shifts its focus to nicotine itself. The new documentary seeks to answer three key questions: “How does nicotine actually affect developing brains,” “are there any benefits to adults who use nicotine without smoking,” and “who’s covering up the truth about nicotine, and why?”
A Billion Lives was seen as a pro-vaping production, but Biebert, now a vaping advocate, is a non-vaper, non-smoker who also tackled food and pharmaceutical industry issues. It wasn’t until the untimely death of a friend from lung cancer that he took an interest in smoking addition, which subsequently formed the basis of his first documentary.
Whether You Don’t Know Nicotine reaches the same level of 4 million viewers is yet to be seen, but Biebert and his team are committed to creating awareness around nicotine in any form in a way that should stir up interest, both positive and negative.
The documentary attempts to cast a wide net across everything from “The Real Cost” campaigns that stigmatize vaping to the truth behind why people use nicotine in the first place. One early message is clear and consistent, though: the focus of the documentary is on the availability of nicotine, and vaping, for adults; youth usage remains a problem that is not acceptable. What Biebert hopes to uncover around that is the facts of its usage and effects, starting with misconceptions and moving on to practical medical uses, possibly including its potential to assist in alzheimer’s treatments.
Though his two directoral productions center around smoking in one way or another, Aaron Biebert is a self-described “people advocate” who seeks to spread information that helps people. You Don’t Know Nicotine successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign in February, and its 1,112 backers (rather, donators, as the film secured fiscal sponsorship via The Film Collaborative) and seemingly countless other interested parties eagerly await its full release to see exactly what Biebert dug up, and how he views his findings.
Official descriptions for the project take a very hard-line stance with scary questions:
Award-winning director Aaron Biebert poses a serious question: How much ignorance is okay for a life-and-death topic?https://thefilmcollaborative.org/fiscalsponsorship/projects/youdontknownicotine
What if your mom died because of clickbait headlines? What if fake experts at the dinner table led to your sister’s death? What if corruption shortened the lives of your children?
Wouldn’t you fight back?
Take the red pill and follow on a wild journey around the world to discover the shocking truth about nicotine, why young people shouldn’t use it, why some people should, and how it could dramatically change the life of a loved one…even if they don’t smoke.
It’s easy to look at this, without the finished project on hand, as being sensationalist, or that the issue is being viewed through a singular lens and ignoring facts outside of that scope, something that his first feature drew some criticism for. It is a polarizing way to market a documentary, in any case, and puts a lot of trust in the viewer to view it as impartially as possible.
As of this writing the documentary does not have a firm release date, so the quest to “Know Nicotine” will have to wait a little while longer. When it arrives, though, it is unlikely to answer every question, but will almost surely spark more conversation.