Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

The Hungry Heart: Vermonters and The “Dragon Of Addiction”

Prescription drug addiction has emerged as one of Vermont’s most pervasive and most hidden public health problems. Now, “The Hungry Heart,” produced by Kingdom County Productions and directed by Peacham, Vermont filmmaker Bess O’Brien, provides a powerful and intimate look at the often hidden world of prescription drug addiction in a moving documentary that bears witness to the struggles of drug addicts, their families, and the medical professionals who do their utmost to support them.

The hero of “The Hungry Heart” is St. Albans, Vermont pediatrician Fred Holmes, who has spent more than forty years counseling, supporting and mentoring a wide variety of addicts. Direct, honest, and compassionate with his patients, Holmes clearly understands the power of non-judgmental listening, what he calls “the healing power of conversation,” and the importance of building personal relationships, even as he practices what one patient calls “tough love.” O’Brien’s intimately-filmed scenes of the intense office conversations Holmes has with his patients are at once disturbing and moving, and provocatively reveal the emotional and physical struggles that accompany prescription drug abuse. Coupled with a series of still photo montages accompanied by a haunting soundtrack (the film’s music managed to be arresting without distracting), “The Hungry Heart” ultimately emerges as a hopeful film about the redemptive power of human relationships to help heal difficult personal circumstances.

While Dr. Holmes (now retired) is the central figure in the film, “The Hungry Heart” also spotlights the many Vermont victims of drug addiction who have the courage to speak out, candidly and with conviction, about their experiences. “Alcohol and drugs made me feel like no one could hurt me,” explains one addict, while another patient details how drug addiction created a “whole lifestyle” that helped kill the emotional as well as physical pain of being lonely, depressed, and the product of divorced parents. The film also dispels a number of many myths about prescription drug addiction – that it affects only the young, the working class or the poor, for example. Geoff Kane, Chief of Addiction Services at Brattleboro Retreat, raves, “The Hungry Heart” displays the unflinching honesty necessary for addiction recovery.  Dr. Fred Holmes displays the unwavering respect, hope, and accountability that people need to get there.” I’d agree – don’t miss screening this remarkable film.

“The Hungry Heart” is touring around the state of Vermont, and will play the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield on Sunday. Oct 13th @ 7:00 pm. Tickets are $12 adults, $6 Youth at the door. For those in recovery or impacted by addiction that need support, tickets are free.

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2013 by in Arts and tagged .

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