Shorts are a Big Deal at the Reel Recovery Film Festival

by Burl Barer

There is a thrill to discovering an excellent film, a brilliant director, a magnificent performance, and a cinematic story that touches you as if social distancing were an illusion.  Those of us who love movies are romantically enamored with film festivals. We seek them out, track them down, and surrender to their seamless images on the silver screen even if the silver screen is now a cathode ray tube or an LED image on an iPad.

Film festivals are a tremendous source of discovery for film lovers, and a rewarding means of exposure and recognition for filmmakers.  The Reel Recovery Film Festival, unique and wonderous, has rapidly become a film festival of international significance and artistic influence.

With the RRFF, you get fascinating and entertaining filmmaking in the full length features, and you also get it in the shorts. Of the 88 films screened at the 2020 Virtual Reel Recovery Film Festival several were short films that packed as much artistry, integrity, and entertainment into 16 minutes, 8 minutes or less as a full length feature.

“The Reel Recovery Film Festival is a true film festival and is not a Trojan horse for a recovery rally or a 12-Step Hootenanny. There’s no hidden agenda”

Personally, my two favorite short films this year were:

HELP: a delightful tragicomic slice of insightful fermented reality from Australia that’s already racked up more awards than any IPA at a Beer Festival.  HELP is about a young woman reclaiming her life after a decade of struggling with addiction. HELP aims to be educational as well as entertaining, intending to “help” other women to take control over alcohol, to make the choice to be alive and be the best versions of themselves. Written and directed by FABIANA WEINER, it is also a brilliant comedy that is a multi-episode web series, and it has its own Facebook page.

AGE OF DYSPHORIA: At its core, Age of Dysphoria is a story of redemption.  This is top shelf professional production and execution from first frame to final fade out. Directed by the highly accomplished JESSICA PETELLE who has over fifteen years of experience as a producer of award-winning independent film, television, music videos, interactive and digital content for advertising and entertainment.

There were many fascinating and thought provoking films of various lengths at the 2020 Festival.  The frequent inclusion of films that were about recovery from challenges other than compulsive drinking, dependence and/or addiction help avert the “numbness factor” that kicks in when one overdoses on tragic drunks and dead end druggies.

This was also the first year that the Reel Recovery Film Festival was streaming to your home or phone rather than a local theater.  I missed the big screen and dark room, surrounded by like-minded strangers, but home streaming was remarkably convenient, and I could create my own Film Festival play list.  Next year?  The decision has been made. Assuming we are not dead yet and the theaters are open, Writers in Treatment, producers of the REEL RECOVERY FILM FESTIVAL, will continue BOTH.  Live in theaters and streaming to your home, phone, garage, or homeless shelter staff computer.And remember, when it comes to powerful cinema and life enhancing motion picture experiences, size doesn’t matter nor does the length of the experience.   A short film can do a lot of good in a little time. Good things can come in small packages.  If you didn’t get what you needed from a full-length feature, perhaps you will get it in the shorts.


(Barer is an Edgar Award winner and New York Times Best Selling author. He is also on the Advisory Board of Writers in Treatment)

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