There’s a new short film premiering this month by local University of Rhode Island film major Alyssa Botelho, and Tri-Town residents will recognize one particular local landmark that serves as the setting for the introduction of a short film that appears as to be as poignant as it is relevant to the times.
Based on a true story, Junkie is a short film about the struggles of addiction and the role of law enforcement in a community of broken people.
Botelho wrote and directed the film that she says is about addiction and one addict who “finds inspiration to change his lifestyle in the most unexpected of places.”
Some time ago, Botelho’s family member who works in law enforcement told her a story that touched her deeply, prompting her to take the story and turn it into her first large-scale production.
“He was telling me about someone he had to arrest and that person opened up to him about his struggles with drug addiction on such an honest level,” Botelho told The Wanderer during a January 7 phone interview. “And I just thought that that was super cool and I wanted to make a film based on that.”
The title, Junkie, was chosen intentionally for its disparaging connotation.
“Choosing the derogatory term ‘junkie’ was actually a very particular choice on my part,” Botelho said. “It kind of goes in line with what the main message of the film is, and that message is that, in our everyday lives – even if we don’t consciously realize it – people struggling with drug addiction are seen as ‘junkies’. That’s how people view those struggling, as junkies – even if they don’t explicitly call them junkies.
“So my goal is to show that there is an actual human person behind that label and that maybe in our everyday lives we need to start thinking about and treating them as people who aren’t just that label,” said Botelho.
Mattapoisett is where the film begins; specifically, the well-known Mattapoisett Diner on Route 6, both inside and outside in the diner’s parking lot.
“That’s where we really get to meet the characters, and the character dynamics really start there,” said Botelho.
The film, says Botelho, is a journey – one that the viewer will go through from beginning to end – that results in what she believes will be an eventual paradigm shift of how people view drug addiction and those that fall victim to it.
“At face value it’s so easy to say, oh, look at this worthless person… But the truth is, none of us really know what that person has gone through or who they are,” she said.
Junkie is by far, Botelho said, her biggest project so far. A graduate of Fairhaven High School and slated to graduate from URI this spring as a double major in film and business management, Botelho says Junkie is only the first of a succession of future projects. She’s got a taste for it now.
“This is definitely my biggest project so far,” she said. “In terms of short films, this is the first legitimate one. It was crazy; it was so intense.”
Botelho undertook the whole process from start to finish, starting with screening and casting actors in New York to screening the film this upcoming Friday.
Fairhaven TV is sponsoring a free public screening of Junkie this Friday, January 10, at 7:00 pm in the auditorium of the Fairhaven Town Hall, 40 Center Street, Fairhaven.
Botelho got herself a list of all the film festivals – domestic and international – and plans to submit Junkie to many of them that will take her efforts well into 2021. She said she would post the short film online as well later this year.
By Jean Perry