REEL Recovery Film Festival Producer/Writers in Treatment Founder, has lived in Studio City for 16 years.
He’s grateful to be holding this year’s Festival at the , which he calls, “a local treasure,” describing it as a “Holiday Inn, (which) thinks it’s a Sheraton…not bad for our little town.” Leonard appreciates the Garland’s wonderful restaurant, amazing theatre, and its location within walking distance from Tujunga.
Buschel loves Studio City’s energy, quiet streets, nice residential feel, and being able to walk everywhere he needs to go. He enjoys watching ride his bicycle around the neighborhood, as well as the family oriented environment. Leonard’s especially gratified every time he goes into and sees his son, Ben, reading and writing in the corner or telling tales of adventure to a gathering of young friends.
In 2008, after having been a publisher and certified substance abuse counselor, Buschel started Writers in Treatment. He was motivated by his friend, Buddy Arnold, founder of the Musicians Assistance Program, which does for musicians what Writers in Treatment does for people in the writing industry.
Buschel’s two passions have always been books and recovery. Most of his family members are writers, therefore, books have had a deep and meaningful impact on his life, both before and after he became sober. Hence, Writers in Treatment helps anyone who makes a living off the written word.
In order to publicize the existence of Writers in Treatment, Buschel began the REEL Recovery Film Festival. His aim is to give people in recovery and workers in treatment an interesting, cultural activity to attend. It’s an opportunity to not only see original and classic films, but “to be inspired by and reminded about the horrors and subtleties of addiction.”
Buschel’s objective is to allow “people in recovery to realize that you don’t have to hang up your intellect to hang on to your recovery.” He expressed that “creativity is essential to making recovery a joyous source of self-discovery…life is beautiful, depending on how you look at it.”
Even more meaningful for Buschel, is to get across the message that “the recovery movement is something America can be proud of-something that might in fact help create a world of peace, love and understanding for anyone suffering from a disease, disorder or dilapidated thinking.”
After each screening, there is a Q & A or a psychologist who leads a mini-process group with the audience. Buschel is happy to present author Carrie White, whose new book, Upper Cut, sold out on its first day of publication. She will be interviewing The New York Times bestselling author, Nic Sheff (“Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” and “We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction.”) and director, Beth Dewey, after the showing of Dewey’s film, Tweeked (about two female companions whose friendship disintegrates as they careen into a methamphetamine frenzy).
Another highlight is closing night’s special feature On the Bowery, director Lionel Rogosin’s 1956 classic film, a cinéma-vérité depiction of alcoholism on New York’s infamous skid row. Martin Scorcese called it “A milestone in American cinema...it’s a rare achievement.” Filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. will conduct an in-person Q&A after the film.
Downey, Sr. has honored Patch with an exclusive quote about his involvement in the Festival: "Watching films with an audience always makes it more interesting. It's great to have a film festival with drug and alcoholism movies being featured, because watching some of these alone could be ADDICTIVE!"
This year’s Closing Night Gala, with celebrity comedian Barry Diamond hosting and performing, is a high point of the Festival. Diamond blew the audience away at the "Experience, Strength and Hope Award" event at the Skirball Cultural Institute last February.
Guests attending the party will meet filmmakers, see old friends, share stories, listen to live music, schmooze with no booze, and delight in delectable cuisine, celebrating life and the pleasure of recovery.
Tickets for the gala can be purchased at:
All proceeds benefit a California-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (tax ID#26-3550390) that gives scholarships to rehab and is dedicated to reducing the stigma of addiction and the anonymity of recovery. Info at www.writersintreatment.org
At noon on Saturday after the screening of his film My Pink Shirt, director Charles Kassatly will be available in person for an informal audience Q & A. The 75-minute feature starring newcomer Milly Crnogorac, tells the story of a strong-minded 15-year-old girl forced to survive on her own, selling her body to support her drug habit and provide care for her dying mother. Based on real-life characters, My Pink Shirt is a stunning tale of betrayal, addiction, and loss of humanity. It’s being distributed worldwide by an American distribution company and is available on Amazon and Netflix.
Commenting on his gritty cautionary tale, filmmaker Kassatly says,“The purpose of the film is to reach tweens and teens and expose them to the true and harsh realities of not staying in school and the severe consequences of the abusive usage of drugs and alcohol to the body and soul.” He recommends bringing your high school-age kids, sharing your experiences, and joining this gripping conversation.
As a writer/producer/director in recovery, Kassatly told me he welcomes exhibiting his movie at this Film Festival because it only promotes artistic endeavors concerning addiction. My Pink Shirt won a Prism Award, which recognizes outstanding projects, e.g. films and books, dealing with substance dependence.
Kassatly stated, “The two darkest moments in my life were September 11th and meeting her (the teenager his script is based on) at the Goodwill Store trying to buy a pink shirt,” hence, the import behind the title.
The complete schedule online is at www.reelrecoveryfilmfestival.com