Film festival explores addiction and recovery

Recovery Film Fest organiser Dougie Dudgeon at the Company Gardens.

The South African Recovery Film Festival returns for a fourth year, continuing its focus on films exploring themes of addiction, mental health issues and recovery.

The festival is taking place at the Labia in Cape Town from today Thursday September 22 to Sunday September 25.

The film festival, which has once again partnered with the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), aims to educate, entertain, inform and promote solutions and successes of recovery from addiction is part of the International Recovery Month initiative which sees thousands of events take place all around the world.

Addiction, alcoholism and mental health issues remain clouded by stigma and lack of understanding. The shame and ignorance often surrounding these conditions make accessing help lonely and difficult despite the reality that we are all affected.

The festival was borne from the idea that recovery tends not to be noticed, fest organiser Dougie Dudgeon told the CapeTowner. “It’s normally the problem that people always talk about, so we decided to have an event that people can show they are part of recovery.

“Cape Town has its own problem with tik, alcoholism and other addiction. There are people out there who have recovered.

“Everyone knows someone who is negatively effected by substance abuse, whether alcohol or drugs. Process addictions such as sex, gambling, eating problems, gaming and technology are seemingly increasing.

“The problems are all too evident, and the impacts on every level of society all too obvious. However, the solutions are too seldom celebrated,” said Mr Dudgeon.

“The South African Recovery Film Festival encourages those in recovery to come together as active members of their communities, as role models and credible messengers of hope. We believe recovery needs to be celebrated, and addiction needs to be understood, so we welcome those in recovery, family, friends, health care professionals, carers of all types, policy makers, law enforcement, and most of all anyone who likes good films!”

The Recovery Film Festival draws a spotlight on these challenges faced by recovery, raising awareness and taking us behind the mask of dependency disorders.

“More importantly the festival highlights the heroic path to recovery that many have chosen – a pathway that was only faintly visible to them from within the darkness of their dependency”, said SACAP’s chief executive, Lance Katz.

“These are ordinary men and women who courageously chose life instead of death. This is the most empowering message of the festival. That recovery is not the preserve of a few elite but a possibility for all addiction sufferers”.

The festival opening night tonight Thursday September 22 will be the South African premier of (DIS) Honesty – The Truth About Lies, a film about the ambivalent culture of truth. In recovery, honesty is seen as a foundation, but what about everyone else?

The showing of the documentary will be followed with a discussion looking at the South African context of issues raised, and the concept of personal honesty.

Mr Dudgeon told the CapeTowner that the opening night is always special and that they try to make it as accessible as possible.

He said he is also excited about the Recovery Walk around Cape Town on Saturday September 24, which sees about 400 people celebrating their recovery, and the craft market at the theatre on Sunday September 25.

All the documentaries in the line-up are showing in South Africa for the first time. To see the full programme, visit

Tickets are available from Webtickets ( and cost R50 per ticket.