The Reel Recovery Film Festival In New York Celebrates The Creation Of AA

By John Lavitt 09/22/16

The New York Reel Recovery Film Festival will run from September 23-29. 

The Reel Recovery Film Festival In New York Celebrates The Creation Of AA
Photo credit: Leonard Buschel

Over the past five years, the Reel Recovery Film Festival has evolved into an essential cultural landmark in the recovery community, revealing an intimate connection between creativity and sobriety. Founded by Leonard Buschel, the editor/publisher of the weekly Addiction/Recovery eBulletin, the 2016 New York lineup of the Reel Recovery Film Festival honors National Recovery Month by offering an array of new films while also celebrating the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Reel Recovery Film Festival founder Leonard Bushel  - Photo credit: Integrated Marketing

Dr. Kimberly Johnson of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will moderate a live Q&A on Saturday, Sept. 24, with William Borchert, the noted biographer of Lois Wilson, the founder of Al-Anon and wife of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholic Anonymous.

Celebrating the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous and the history behind the program, the Reel Recovery Film Festival will feature a talk with a man who personally knew and was trusted by the principal players. Emmy-nominated screenwriter William Borchert is known for much more than just writing the screenplays for the television dramas, My Name Is Bill W. starring James Woods as Bill Wilson and James Garner as Dr. Bob, and When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story starring Winona Ryder as Lois Wilson and Barry Pepper as Bill Wilson. Both movies will be screened at the festival.

Beyond the biography of Lois Wilson, Borchert is the author of numerous other books including, Sought Through Prayer and Meditation and 1000 Years of Sobriety

Leonard Buschel describes the event as “an Alcoholics Anonymous movie extravaganza day. As someone who personally knew many of the principal players, Borchert will answer questions about the films and the challenges they presented. Beyond being an entertaining speaker, Borchert will describe the responsibility he felt turning some of the most important stories of the 20th century into screenplays. As a sober man, he worked hard to do justice to the founders of a program that saved his own life.” 

After the opening reception on Friday, Sept. 23, to commemorate National Recovery Month, the New York lineup of the Reel Recovery Film Festival kicks off with the New York premiere of The Frogmarch. Director Jonathan D’Ambrosio will be attending and speaking with the audience after the screening. The independent film tells an emotionally-resonant story about a group of friends who stage a drug intervention. Although their intentions are good, the results do not go as planned as dark secrets are exposed.

Buschel describes the movie to The Fix as “an extremely entertaining film, The Frogmarch is reminiscent of the '80s classic, The Big Chill. I believe it will be this year’s best intervention movie. Both wise and tender, it reveals how difficult it is to save a loved one and how addiction can tear apart even the deepest friendships.”

The Frogmarch trailer

The audience of the Reel Recovery Film Festival in New York has grown considerably over the last five years. By expanding his efforts to engage with treatment centers and sober houses by distributing over 7,500 free tickets, Buschel has created a needed cultural landmark in the recovery world and beyond. From Writers In Treatment to the annual Experience, Strength and Hope Awards, the Reel Recovery Film Festival has become the base from which Buschel has been able to offer so much value to the sober community nationwide. The New York lineup once again demonstrates this value by presenting a vibrant mix of the new and the classic. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.