A film festival benefits members of a professional group

Using the tagline “Every story deserves a great second act,” the nonprofit organization Writers in Treatment is trying to assist professional writers who might need financial help to pursue addiction treatment and recovery services. The two-year-old group’s signature event has become a Los Angeles-based film festival that showcases movies with addiction subject matter.

This year’s REEL Recovery Film Festival will be held from Oct. 27-30 in Los Angeles, with plans for a smaller-scale presentation Dec. 13-14 in Nashville, Tenn. Writers in Treatment co-founder Leonard Buschel says last year’s inaugural event, which featured weekly film showings at a rented Hollywood theater, attracted a number of clinicians as well as persons in recovery and non-recovering people.

Some treatment centers sent groups of clients to the screenings last year, and the event included some facilitated process group meetings afterwards. Buschel, a former publisher and addiction counselor who has been in recovery for 15 years, recalls his own emotional experience in early sobriety after he watched the film “Leaving Las Vegas” starring Nicolas Cage.

“I immediately went to a location where meetings were held and waited for the next meeting to start,” he says.

Buschel recalls that while he was aware of other efforts on behalf of specific professional groups, such as musicians, he had never heard of an effort to help writers. People in California often assume the nonprofit was created to assist screenwriters only, but it’s for anyone who derives at least one-quarter of total income from the written word.

Scholarships are available to individuals with or without health insurance. Applicants must agree to participate in a relapse prevention program along with the primary treatment they attend, and must submit—what else?—a written essay of up to 750 words about their addiction and treatment history.

“We’d like to get at least one person a month into treatment,” Buschel says.

Besides the film festival, Writers in Treatment also sponsors educational events featuring authors and field professionals. The group tries to be sensitive to the needs of writers, who like other artists often find it difficult to resume with their craft in early recovery, Buschel says.

For more information about the REEL Recovery Film Festival, visit www.writersintreatment.org. Writers in Treatment is seeking corporate sponsors for this fall’s event. In addition, film and video entries for possible screening at the festival are being accepted through midnight on Sept. 17.

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