New Hampshire Day: Andy Wooff’s Birthday and The Heroin Effect
NH Day humanizes a topic that we all know too well here in the state: The Heroin Epidemic. The Music Hall presented back to back, Andy Wooff’s Birthday, a short documentary about an addict on his birthday, and The Heroin Effect, an “in progress” documentary following the lives of over a dozen recovering addicts in New Hampshire.
Andy Wooff’s Birthday is written, directed and produced by William Bentley whose work focuses on sub-cultural phenomena and the human condition. Although short of time, the movement and quality of this documentary short allows the viewer to feel connected with Wooff as reflects on his life. There’s a quiet moment where the shot is focused on Wooff’s face, and we are forced to stare back in the eyes of a man whose eyes are screaming sadness. This powerful documentary recaps Wooff on his 51st birthday, which is usually a time in life to have a “mid-life crisis.” As Wooff’s tells his story and his regrets, we are left with an ambiguous ending on whether or not a change in Wooff’s life will occur.
The Heroin Effect, which is directed and written by Portsmouth Native and this year’s NH Filmmaker of the Year, Michael Venn, takes a different direction on showing the epidemic. The Heroin Effect follows the lives of several recovering addicts, including Sandi Coyle, Eric Spofford, and Dean Lemire, who have proven there is a brighter life outside of the hold of addiction.
Venn and Karlina Lyons, who is the producer and co-writer of the documentary, have sought out to tell the story of success and happiness following the hardship of addiction to heroin. By telling the story from the perspective of recovery, the film tries to bring hope to those who are currently struggling with this disease.
Following the the showing, both Lyons and Venn took the stage to answer questions from the audience. When asked what the audience and community response has been since its first premiere, also at The Music Hall, earlier this year, Venn explained that there have been reactions from both ends of the spectrum.
“The reaction to the film and its effect on people has opened up a line of communication on the topic that hasn’t been talked about, which as a filmmaker, there is no better feeling than to have someone tell you that they were still thinking about your film a day or two later. ”
Venn continued, “This holds true, especially with those who disagree with the theme and content in the film. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people after screenings; some of them disagreed with the film and wanted to tell me why. At the end of the day, this type of reaction is just as important (maybe even more so) as those who agree with some of the viewpoints shared in the film or those who gained new insight into the matter.
This topic of heroin and opioids is controversial and is in the news everyday; it currently affects our state, as well as the rest of the country and this opiate crisis isn’t going away anytime soon. The more we talk about it, the closer we get to finding solutions and pathways to recovery for those affected.”
This screening of The Heroin Effect was new to those who have seen the documentary since the premiere. In order to best format the film for distribution, it’s still in the editing process.