On 3rd November HRH the Duchess of Cambridge attended a showcase event for the Recovery Street Film Festival.
The Duchess watched the winning films from the past three years and met filmmakers, supporters and those involved in the organising and running of the festival.
Ceri, 2015 winner for her film Understanding Mum, talks about the event, how the experience has helped her and hopes for the future of the festival.
My mum was an alcoholic, and my childhood was very chaotic and unstable. I always thought I could fix my mum and kept the alcoholism a secret from everyone. I still meet a lot of challenges with self- esteem and anxiety due to this. My mum died when I was 21 so I feel a huge gap in my life at times. I’m now married with 2 children and want to ensure I give them the best childhood possible!
The showcase event was amazing, and really reminded me of the importance of the festival, from the great venue, inspirational speeches, watching the other films, to meeting the Duchess of Cambridge. I felt privileged to have been asked to attend. On a personal level it was a huge achievement for me to even attend the event as I get quite anxious, but I was put at ease by staff and guests, and particularly the Duchess as she had such an empathetic, caring manner, and seemed genuinely interested in my story.
I hope that the Duchess’s presence will help put the festival in the spotlight and raise awareness of it and the great partnership work between the charities involved. If the exposure encourages people to watch the films it will hopefully help change perceptions of addiction and show those in recovery that they aren’t alone in their journey to motivate them to make changes in their lives. It would be fantastic if this inspires more people to enter the competition and others to come forward to help fund the festival for years ahead.
It has really inspired me to do more to use my past to raise awareness and help others to have a positive future.
Initially I entered to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by being the child of an alcoholic, and I didn’t realise at first, but the main benefit to making the film was that after having my son I was again processing the grief of losing my mum. The film helped me remind myself that mum was controlled by alcoholism and it wasn’t my fault, and has really helped me move on. I felt for the first time I was able to show my true childhood, as I had always tried to protect my Mum and keep it a secret. It has also really helped my confidence and acceptance of myself and the person I have become and what I have achieved.
Since getting involved with the festival I have written a piece for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), who also showed my film in the House of Commons to raise awareness during Children of Alcoholics week. Recently I have felt able to show the film closer to home, and decided I’d like to use it to help my local community. I have spoken to Sure Start Children’s Centres, who are now going to use it with their vulnerable parents group, and I am in discussions with the charity Home-Start to hopefully include it in their training programme.