Story by Kris Ketonen, Photo by Ryan Hill
Ryan La Via and Ryan Hill have found themselves on an emotional journey as they work to complete their new documentary film. The film, A Sobering Story, examines the addictions crisis in the Thunder Bay area, the stigma surrounding it, and the lack of resources available for those struggling.
“The idea was always in the back of my mind,” La Via, director, co-producer, and co-writer says. “Then, there was an article published in the media that kind of put me over the edge, saying that this story needed to be told. […] Essentially, there’s a lack of support for people who are suffering from any sort of addictions locally, and the waiting list is too long.”
The film will include interviews with people who have personal experience with addictions. In some cases, they struggled with addictions themselves, while others have lost family members to overdoses. First responders, addictions support workers, and medical professionals will also be included.
Hill, A Sobering Story’s director of photography, co-producer, and co-writer, says the stories they’ve heard so far have been powerful. “I had to sit in the director’s chair for two interviews,” he says. “I was in tears for both…it’s been so emotional.” He says he hopes people who see the finished film will come away with feelings of hope, and fear. “Fear that if we don’t get funding for these things, if we don’t move forward together and start grassroots organizations […] and support different initiatives in hopes that this doesn’t happen to us,” he says. “We use fear in a positive way.”
La Via says he hopes viewers will “be enlightened about the situation, walk out with more knowledge about the lack of resources, and just […] be aware that it can happen to anybody. It being a disease, it really does play with the mind, is what I’ve learned. People often say ‘well, why don’t people just quit? You just can’t quit. It plays with your brain, it rewires your brain. It’s a sad disease.”
La Via and Long aim to release the film in 2023.