Recovery Street Film Festival, an annual event that highlights recovery journeys and aims to combat the stigma associated with addiction, is now accepting submissions for its ninth edition. Aspiring filmmakers are invited to participate in this prestigious competition that celebrates stories of resilience and personal growth. This year, the festival explores the theme, ‘The Sky is the Limit,’ encouraging filmmakers with firsthand experience or those close to someone in recovery to embrace the boundless possibilities that arise from overcoming addiction.
The festival organizers emphasize that this theme signifies viewing recovery as an opportunity for healing, personal development, exploration, freedom, love, and kindness. Recovery journeys often lead individuals to unimaginable places, opening doors to endless possibilities. With the sky as the limit, filmmakers are encouraged to embark on a creative journey that will take both themselves and their audience on a transformative experience.
Since its inception nine years ago, the Recovery Street Film Festival has attracted hundreds of entries, reaching an audience of over a million viewers. This platform has provided individuals with lived experience an opportunity to share their stories with the public, free from shame and judgment. Last year, due to the exceptionally high caliber and quantity of submissions, the festival expanded its film competition shortlist from ten to fifteen films. The overall winner of the 2022 competition was Ceri Walker, an ambassador for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa), whose stop-motion animated film, ‘Understanding the Child in Me,’ poignantly explored the impact of growing up with a parent struggling with alcoholism.
During the official screening and award ceremony at the Everyman Cinema in Chelsea, Ceri delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech. She expressed, “Ultimately, I’m a mom without a mom, and it’s been 20 years since I lost her. These films will make a big difference because if people can seek support without shame, it will save lives and create a profound impact for generations to come. What I’m doing now is for my children and their children. So let’s continue, one day at a time. I understand that my recovery is lifelong, and I embrace it.”
The Recovery Street Film Festival 2023 offers a prize fund of £500 in Amazon vouchers for the winners. The first-place filmmaker will receive £300, the second-place will receive £150, and the third-place will receive £50. Furthermore, the top three entries, as determined by the esteemed judging panel, will have their travel expenses covered for the official award ceremony and screening in September.
John Paul Chapman, whose music video ‘My Head Feels Like a Washing Machine’ placed among the top three films in 2022, shared his positive experience participating in the competition. He spoke about the profound impact it had on himself and his co-creators from Chase Recovery. John Paul stated, “I truly enjoyed the creative process of making the film. In the past, I had forgotten how much I loved it. Previously, I would rely on substances to find the confidence to pursue such endeavors. But in the past year, remarkable changes have occurred. It’s truly indescribable. I can’t believe how much progress we’ve made. We even started a creative hub as a result. Music and filmmaking have become integral parts of my recovery, something I thought I had lost forever. Even things I wrote five to six years ago, I couldn’t remember. But this experience has shown me that anything is possible, no matter how far down the scale you’ve gone.”
‘My Head Feels Like a Washing Machine’ was filmed using a mobile phone and edited on an “old, knackered laptop,” as described by John Paul. The films are evaluated based on the quality of the concept, creativity, and relevance to the theme. Expensive equipment is not a prerequisite for success in this competition. Filmmakers at all skill levels are encouraged to participate, and the Recovery Street Film Festival website provides helpful guides and tips for creating a film. The competition guidelines stipulate that entries should have a runtime of one to three minutes, allowing for diverse film formats such as short dramas, stop motion animations, documentaries, personal narratives, monologues, songs, poems, and other creative visions.
After the shortlist for the 2023 event is announced, the films will be screened throughout the UK in community hubs, classrooms, theaters, conferences, and cinemas during Recovery Month. However, individuals interested in showcasing the shortlisted films, challenging stigma, and celebrating recovery can also organize their own screenings. Hosting a screening is simpler than one might expect, requiring only a device like a TV, projector, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to showcase the films. The Recovery Street Film Festival will share the top ten shortlisted films on their YouTube channel, making them easily accessible for both hosts and their audiences.
Whether you choose to participate in the competition, host a screening, or simply spread the word about the achievements of individuals in recovery during Recovery Month and beyond, the Recovery Street Film Festival 2023 invites everyone to challenge stigma and celebrate the transformative power of recovery together.