“My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic”: Compelling Documentary that Examines Why Women Are Twice as Likely to Die from Alcoholism to be Screened in Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale
BOSTON, Oct. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Kairos Productions LLC proudly announces that My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic, an award-winning feature-length educational documentary on women and alcohol, will make its West Coast premiere at theLos Angeles REEL Recovery Festival onFriday, October 26, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. at theLaemmle Monica 4-plex cinema. The film made its American premiere at the New York venue of the festival in September, and will be shown at the Fort Lauderdale venue in November. My Name Was Bette was also screened in Boston in the 2012 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival.
The film is especially timely in light of alarming results from a 14-year research study published in this month’s journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research indicating that women’s death rate from alcoholism is more than twice that of men’s.
The results didn’t surprise filmmaker Sherri VandenAkker, Ph.D., the Co-Producer, Director, and Writer of My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic. VandenAkker has been studying alcoholism in women since late 2007, when her mother, Bette, a chronic alcoholic, was found dead. Bette’s death prompted VandenAkker–a Professor at the Springfield College, School of Human Services, Boston campus–to research the disease that took her mother’s life. “I thought that I knew a lot about alcoholism before my mother died,” says VandenAkker, “but it turns out that I didn’t.”
As many as 6 million American women are alcoholic, and that women alcoholics suffer grave health problems sooner and after less exposure to alcohol than men, due largely to biological differences between the sexes. “It turns out that women’s smaller average mass, greater amount of toxin-storing fat, production of different hormones and enzymes, and tendency to binge-drink prove a deadly combination when it comes to alcohol addiction,” VandenAkker explains. “Even people who work in the field are not fully aware of these gender differences,” she says. “Clearly this critical information is not widely known, and people are dying as a result.”
Women tend to drink secretly and hide the extent of their addiction, which delays their entry into treatment. But the filmmaker believes that stigma is the most difficult barrier for women alcoholics to overcome: “Many women resist treatment out of shame and fear of losing their jobs and even custody of their children.”
The film also examines the connection between alcoholism and mental health. “For many women, depression, stress, and anxiety contribute to drinking; in addition, an exceedingly high percentage of alcoholic women have been physically and sexually abused,” notes VandenAkker. She believes that her mother’s alcoholism was strongly tied to her history of depression. “My mother’s friends confirmed my recollection that my mother drank very heavily following loss or when under great stress.”
Finally, the film pays homage to Bette VandenAkker who, like all alcoholics, was so much more than the disease that took her life. “My sister puts it best,” says the filmmaker. “Bette was a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a grandmother; she was a gifted nurse and a loving friend; we hope to convey all of who she was and put a personal face on alcoholism.”
VandenAkker and Co-Producer Josh W. E. Hays employ interviews with Bette’s loved ones, her medical and legal records, and dozens of family snapshots. “We want the film to give viewers a deep understanding of the disease, on every level,” VandenAkker and Hays explain. “We present sound research, but we also try to create the experience of ‘visiting’ with Bette’s loved ones, of looking through a photo album or scrapbook together and sharing stories about her–of grief, hope, compassion, and love.”
Hays–President of Kairos Productions LLC and Producer at Black Bag Pictures– also took on the roles of Director of Photography, Animator, and Editor. Joe Brocato and Yale Chiang of Unlikely Hero Productions are Consulting Producers. Stephanie Olmanni composed the score, and Parker Lanier provided original artwork.
CONTACT: For more information about My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic, please contact Sherri VandenAkker, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view this video on YouTube, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUFr4bD6eTk
Media Contact: Sherri VandenAkker “My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic”, 781-718-5289, email@example.com
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SOURCE Kairos Productions LLC