Q&A with Joan Borsten filmmaker & recovery advocate

Joan Borsten, Filmmaker

Joan Borsten Vidov was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her mother was one of the Navy’s first female officers (then known as WAVES).  Her father had a long career in the entertainment industry. Joan graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in comparative literature, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama, and received a graduate degree from USC in bi-lingual education. 

She worked as a journalist from 1974-1985, first for Israel’s English language daily “The Jerusalem Post.” She was a regular contributor to the LA Times Calendar (Entertainment) section. In 1985, while living in Rome she met Oleg Vidov, known as the Robert Redford of Russia, who came to Italy to defect from the USSR.   When Oleg was given political asylum by the US Government, Joan followed him to Los Angeles. They married several years later

In 1988 with Oleg she formed Films by Jove Inc., the California-based film production and distribution company, which four years later 1992 acquired worldwide rights (excluding the former USSR) to most of the award-winning animation library of Moscow’s Soyuzmultfilm Studio (approximately 1,200 films).    Films by Jove financed digital restoration and marketing of more than 40 hours of animated films produced from 1936-1991 by Soyuzmultfilm successfully defended the Films by Jove license agreement with Soyuzmultfilm Studios and the Studio’s legal copyright in the courts of France and the United States against state-supported Russian piracy until August 2007 when a Russian oligarch bought the rights to the animation library.  

Joan and Oleg co-founded Malibu Beach Recovery Center in 2007. Joan served as CEO until the clinic was sold to a medical investment arm of Wells Fargo Bank in 2014.  During those years she became an advocate for the California addiction treatment industry with special focus on calling to the attention of regulators and elected officials the need to curb “dirty doctors” who became wealthy turning those with pain and other illnesses into “prescription drug addicts.”  In 2016 she co-founded the Addiction Treatment Advocacy Coalition which has slowly begun bringing regulation to the unregulated health insurance companies.  In 2018 she became Executive Director of Summit Estate Recovery Center, a high-end treatment facility located in Silicon Valley.

In 2018 she also returned to filmmaking. Her new documentary, “Oleg:  The Oleg Vidov Story” will be completed in fall 2020.


Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, disease, a choice or a wicked twist of fate.
A. For many it is a genetic pre-disposition.

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. Los Angeles

Q. From what school or teacher did you learn the most?
A. High School Modern American Lit teacher

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to?
A. A university 

Q. Do you have any children?
A. 2 stepsons and 3 grandchildren

Q. Have you started any new projects because of the quarantine?
A. I finished a movie I started before quarantine.

Q. If you ever retire would you prefer to live by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop or penthouse? A. A penthouse

Q. What is your favorite hotel or resort?
A. Any Four Seasons

Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve?
A. I have no patience for untalented people who try to dominate the workspace or personal space.

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on you throughout your life?
A. My parents and husband.

Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, living or dead, who would they be? (choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.)
A. Lawrence Durrell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, JD Salinger

Q. What books are you reading now?
A. Malibu Burning, Rage, I Maya Plisetskaya

Q. What is your FAVORITE Radio show, news show, podcast?
A. NPR, Stephen Colbert

Q. What is your FAVORITE APP?
A. WhatsApp

Q. Are you bingeing on any TV series? If so which ones?
A. Fauda, Prisoners of War, Steisel, Unorthodox, Tehran, Call My Agent, trial of Chicago 7,The bureau, Money Heist… 

Q. Which film have you watched the most? 
A. The Rainmaker

Q. Who is your FAVORITE Director?
A. Nora Ephron

Q. What is your FAVORITE City?
A. Paris

Q. What is your FAVORITE Museum?
A. Jeu de Paume

Q. What is your FAVORITE Restaurant?
A. It (was) Valentino’s on Pico

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. There’s nothing you cannot achieve…

Q. What is the best piece of advice YOU’VE given?
A. Instead of banging your head on the wall, turn right or left.

Q. What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
A. Traveling incognito as a journalist to countries where I was not welcome.

Q. What is your biggest regret?
A. Not spending enough time with my parents when they were in their 90s

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life?
A. Winning a federal court decision.


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