Recovery Film Festival to curb stigma in addiction

The fourth South African Recovery Film Festival began on Thursday nightand runs until Sunday September 25.

The four day festival runs at the Labia in Cape Town and the Bioscope in Joburg, concentrating on films which delve into the theme of addition.

Film festival director Dougie Dudgeon says people experience the Festival in different ways: “It depends on whether they are people in recovery and want to celebrate - they take away a sense of a wider community, in the city, in the country and certainly internationally.

“September is international recovery month and we make a point of that.

“People who are not necessarily suffering from addiction, but may be interested in finding out more or they have drug problems in their family... I hope that they get a sense of hope and a sense of having learnt something.

“And finally we get people who just like films and they say ‘wow you have good films’.”

This year the Recovery Film Festival is trying a different approach from concentrating on films featuring known stars or the classics, rather choosing break-out films which would not normally go out on circuit in South Africa. Like Australian film Ruben Guthrie “which is hilarious.

“It is a really funny Australian comedy drama,”explained Dudgeon.

“Plus there’s an independent film by South African-born director Roydon Turner, Stones, which actually won best feature at the London Independent Feature Film Festival this year.”

Opening night film is (DIS)Honesty - The Truth About Lies, a film about the ambivalent culture of truth.

“The film is based on the work of professor Dan Ariely who is an incredibly funny behavioural scientist. He has been looking at how lying has become so easy.

“In recovery the main thing is honesty so the question is, if we’re living in a dishonest society how do we get honest within that?” asked Dudgeon.

Films in the festival line-up also touch on mental illness and addiction to technology.

Festival organisers have tried to include brief introductions to the film and a panel of speakers where appropriate: “What each speaker will do is give a short personal take on the film and contextualise it in a local context. And we try to take questions or comments from the audience.

“It is time to build that debate.

“That’s the other thing about the Festival, we want people to talk about the stigma and shame that surrounds addiction. That’s the number one barrier to people seeking help. If we can get people to see it as a health issue rather than a moral failing or a criminal issue, more people would seek help.

“We are trying to emphasise the solution rather than the problem,”said Dudgeon.

Check or the full schedule. Call 021 424 5927 to book tickets for the Labia or 011 039 7306 for the Bioscope.

Festival Line-Up

(DIS) Honesty: The Truth About Lies (USA 2015 1hr 30m) : explores the psychology of why people lie.

Kingdom Of Shadows (Mexico/USA 2015 1hr 15m) : looks at the hard choices and destructive consequences of the US Mexico drug war.

My Name Is... (UK 2016 1hr) : the frank story of 8 people and their tempestuous relationship with alcohol.

Link to trailer here

The Adventures Of Dr Crackhead (Canada 2013 1hr 26m) : follows controversial author and research scientist Dr Peter Ferentzy on a lecture tour advocating for greater compassion towards addicts.

The Adventures of Dr Crackhead, trailer from Jennifer DiCresce on Vimeo.

Call Me Lucky (USA 2015 1hr 46m) : challenging film that looks at issues raised by sex abuse.

My Name Was Bette (USA 2011 1hr) : chronicles the progression of alcoholism in the life of the filmmaker’s mother.

Almost Holy (Ukraine/USA 2016 1hr 40m) : follows the efforts of a Ukranian pastor to help the nation’s neglected youth who have succumbed to drug addiction and alcholism.

Ruben Guthrie (Australia 2015 1hr 33m): feature film about a man who is living the high life until his mother challenges him to spend one year without taking a drink.

Stones (UK/South Africa 2016 1hr 40m) : feature film about a talented singer/ songwriter whose life is blighted by alcohol addiction.

Louis Theroux Drinking To Oblivion (UK 2016 1hr) – free screening. What happens when drinking loses its social aspect and becomes a potentially fatal compulsion, asks respected documentary maker Louis Theroux.

Generation Found (USA 2016) : a story about one Houston, Texas community coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution in their home town.

Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue (USA 2015, 1hr 44m): feature film portrait of the original rock chick Janis Joplin.

Secret World Of Recovery (USA 2015 45m): documentary which engages families, friends and neighbours as well as policymakers and the media in a much-needed dialogue around discrimination and stigma associated with addiction.

Check for the full schedule.

Call 021 424 5927 to book tickets for the Labia or 011 039 7306 for the Bioscope.