“A Trilogy of Recovery”

Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington delivered the introductory remarks at a Sept. 28 premiere of three short films on drug and alcohol addiction and recovery, saying that they marked a departure from the dusty portrayals once so prevalent in the recovery community.

“The films shown at most of the 14,000 treatment centers in America tended to be dry, clinical documentaries or dated Hollywood films on drugs and alcohol,” Buffington told the celebrity audience who turned out for “A Trilogy of Recovery” at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. 

“But those who have found recovery know that recovery is not clinical—or a glum tragedy,” she said. “It’s an adventure. A story. Yes, there are challenges. But there is also joy and laughter.”

Buffington singled out Jonathan Heap and Lowell Cauffiel, the two filmmakers and writers who founded Primary Purpose Productions, a nonprofit company that produced the films—”Men in a Box,” “Bed Ridden” and “Plan B”—and organized the evening’s red-carpet event. 

“Lowell and Jonathan found that there was a great need for compelling and entertaining film in the recovery community,” Buffington said, adding that what Primary Purpose seeks to do “is very much in sync with what we do with television programs at Hollywood, Health and Society and the Norman Lear Center. We recognize the profound impact of entertainment media on knowledge and behavior so we work with scriptwriters and producers to create storylines that improve health and well being of viewers.” 

Cauffiel said the purpose of the evening was to also call attention to the power of Hollywood storytelling to help those in recovery.

“Hollywood gets the bad shake that we promote drugs and alcohol,” Cauffiel told The Hollywood Reporter. “[Making] entertaining films that address the problem . . . is a way of giving back.”

Buffington, who’s a member of the advisory board for Primary Purpose, said that the three films marked the first group of what will ultimately be 12 short films. “They not only are intended for people who are in recovery facilities, but made in such a way to cause reflection and the potential for change in general audiences where people may have an addiction problem,” she said. “In short, if you’ve got a problem, these three films will hit home.”

“A Trilogy of Recovery” was part of a fundraising event for the Midnight Mission, which has helped thousands through its work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Buffington later served as moderator for a Q&A with the filmmakers and some of the actors that followed the screenings. 

Funding for the films came from the Dana & Albert Broccoli Charitable Foundation. Albert “Cubby” Broccoli was the longtime producer of the James Bond movie series, transforming them from their relatively low-budget origins into box-office events.