Recovery and sobriety are “hip” these days. The attention garnered from writing a memoir about the journey from addiction to recovery can be the key to a celebrity’s (or wannabe celebrity’s) new image and resurgent popularity. More and more TV series and movies portray characters who struggle with addiction and alcoholism. These portrayals vary widely from the comedic (Homer Simpson), to the realistic (Mom), to the gut-wrenching (Beautiful Boy). For most alcoholics and addicts, sobriety isn’t a TV or movie role. Recovery isn’t cool or hip. It’s life and death, and it’s a way of life. For the stars of this month’s REEL Recovery Film Festival feature, it’s a way to a “new life”.

A New Life

This month’s Saturday Night at the Movies, presented by the REEL Recovery Film Festival in association with In The Rooms, exemplifies the “new life” that can arise from staying clean and sober. 6 Gifts, directed by Nick Tribuno, features 6 men and women from all walks of life who share their failures and triumphs in battling addiction—Ben Gravy (surfing), Scott French (snowboarding), Rebecca Selig (skiing), Chris Vargo (endurance athlete), Monica Lebansky (yoga) and Melody Schofield (crossfit).

Each athlete details their struggle with addiction and how they transformed the drive and passion they once had for substances into healthy, life-affirming pursuits. Scott French, co-producer, with drinking buddy, Eugene Stiltner, explained the impetus for making 6 Gifts.

Through the years of our recovery, we would have friends that were in recovery as well, and some of them relapsed. And we’d wonder why. After talking with them, the recurring theme was ‘I was bored’ or ‘I stopped going to meetings.’

Sobriety Is Not Boring

Stiltner and Scott wanted to show the outside world that sobriety is not boring. In 6 Gifts, they achieve that goal. It is one of the rare documentaries about substance abuse that is exciting and uplifting; not just because the subjects get and stay sober. The film is visually stunning. It was shot on location in Atlantic City, NJ; Austin, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Sedona, AZ; and in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado. Each person’s “gift” is beautifully and carefully filmed, giving the viewer insight into the connection between the person and his/her passion.

Last year, we showed 6 Gifts at the L.A. and New York REEL Recovery Film Festival to rapt audiences who praised its honesty and positivity. Scott, speaking recently from his Cape Cod home, “So many people have this preconceived notion that life would be boring if they quit drinking and drugging…that’s simply not the case. Recovery can give you your life back.”

That is the message the population who is suffering with substance use disorder and mental health issues needs. Recovery can give you your life back and it can give you a new life. Celebrities and well-known personalities who come out as clean and sober help spread awareness, reduce stigma and expand the definition of what addiction and mental illness looks like. But in 6 Gifts, it’s the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And that is the essence of the REEL Recovery Film Festival and In The Rooms.

Watch the Film on Saturday Night

Join us this Saturday, November 14 at 9 PM Eastern for this free film screening! All you need is a free In The Rooms account to watch the movie. Simply sign up to become a member, then enter the virtual movie theatre.

Author

Ahbra Kaye is the producer and curator of the 12 year-old REEL Recovery Film Festival and Symposium. The film festival is both a joy and a challenge that she is excited to continue in the virtual realm this year. Streaming November 6-12 on the REEL Recovery Film Channel. She is proud to be 4 1/2 years sober, a 3rd generation Angeleno and mother of 3 to Josh, Jordyn, Ellie, and two dogs, Abby and Butters.

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