We just played our 17th date on our 32 town tour of “The Hungry Heart” across Vermont!
What a ride it has been so far.
We started off with the “world” premiere in St. Albans on Sept 21st. 500 people showed up–it was packed and the excitement was electric. It was so gratifying to show “The Hungry Heart” in the town where I shot the movie and to see the hometown crowd embrace their neighbors and friends who were up on the big screen. After the film finished I brought everyone up on stage to a standing ovation and a round of local hugs and congratulations. St. Albans should be so proud of the many brave people from their community who told their stories in the film.
Then it was off to the Flynn Theater in Burlington on Sept 27th for the “gala” premiere. I was biting my nails up to the last minute—but WHAT A NIGHT! We had 1200 people there—we gave away 400 free tickets to people in recovery—there were young people there, high school students, underwriters, donors and VIPs—including our special guests Mayor Miro Weinberger, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, Commissioner Doug Racine from VT Dept of Human Resources, Michael Casarico from Burlington Labs , Mark Ames from the Recovery Centers and Martha Maksym from Chittenden County United Way and—-Ta da!!! Mrs. Vermont—who was fabulous, is in recovery and wore her crown. Many people were thanked, the excitement was palpable and the movie started. I don’t think I will ever see the film projected on such a huge screen again!
People laughed, cried and cheered at the end of the movie. It was a fabulous night at the Flynn.
And that launched the state-wide tour! So far we have shown the film in Stowe, Morrisville, Fairlee, Richford, Enosburg, Swanton, Montpelier, Randolph, Waitsfield, Barre, Rochester, Winooski, Jericho and Shelburne.
Every night has had its indelible moments. Some particularly memorable evenings have been at the Richford screening when community organizer Sarah Jane Davis rode up to the event in her car that was plastered with Hungry Heart posters, got out of her vehicle and with outstretched arms yelled across to me and my roadie Jessie “You’re here!”—Sarah helped organize the town, had high school students literally waving down cars to stop and come to the show and was just an all out cheerleader for the movie. Thank you Sarah!
Another memorable night was Swanton ( I was not there—I took one night off to just catch my breath!) But according to Fred and the gang 300 people showed up at the high school and Sally Greeno from the movie made an impassioned speech and got the crowd riled up! Good for her!
Winooski was a special night because we dedicated the evening to local town hero Timothy Bergeron who had just passed away from a long battle with drug addiction. Many of his family members attended the screening and his brother in law Les got up and memorialized his life and struggles. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Barre was also amazing—we had 250 people attend—many people from recovery came including a bunch of folks on parole who asked great questions during the Q and A. Bob from the local Turning Point did an excellent job in community organizing to help get the audience there. That night before the show The Mayor from Barre read a proclamation saying that October 16th was here on named Recovery Day in the city. Fantastic!
Montpelier was packed at both Bethany Church and CCV—Shelburne, there weren’t enough chairs so people had to sit on the floor and on tables in the back of the town hall, and in Waitsfield people lounged in comfy couches in the movie theater and had a conversation with us afterwards as if we were all sitting in a big living room. That was cool.
The many conversations and discussions with audiences after each show have been illuminating, honest and reveal the fact that opiate addiction is everywhere and in each town across Vermont that we have landed. The people attending the shows are diverse—including many parents who come to share their heart-wrenching stories of struggle about their addicted kids and those in recovery—and although the stories are tough, there is also a lot of hope that emanates from each of these events because people are coming together, sharing their stories in conjunction with the movie and empowering each other to take action and make change.
Behind the scenes, my compatriots from the movie Pediatrician Fred Holmes, Katie, Linda, Sally, Ron, Raina, Stephanie, Pat, Jessie and others who have showed up for the Q and A’s have all been articulate and amazing. Each of them bring something special to the conversation with audiences.
And of course….. we are also having lots of fun on the road…driving to far away places, showing up in the middle of nowhere, setting up our box office wherever and whenever, finding places to eat along the way that range from hamburger joints to high cuisine eateries, laughing uncontrollably at Katie’s hilarious stories and jokes, and even taking care of a stray baby in Randolph (inside joke)….Anyway, we are half way through the tour—another 15 or so dates to go. Thanks to everyone, including my roadie “Jess-he” for being on time, ready to go and always schlepping the equipment into the next venue with a heave-ho and a good sense of humor.
So—that’s it for now—On to the next town! See you on the road.