Documentary A Sobering Story Debuts This Month 

By Kat Lyzun

On April 17, locally produced documentary A Sobering Story will have its much-anticipated public debut at Silver City Theatre through the North of Superior Film Association. 

The film, recently unveiled at a small private screening, is a powerful, raw, emotional testament to the persistent issue of substance abuse and opioid deaths in Thunder Bay. The personal stories are captivating and heartbreaking. Mothers who desperately tried to help their children overcome addiction but were let down by gaping holes in the system. A father who lost his only son just weeks before being interviewed for the documentary. Folks in the recovery community working tirelessly with limited resources, and constantly battling the stigma of addiction. Police officers. Doctors. Paramedics. Politicians. It is a community-wide issue, and that is precisely the point.

Co-producers Ryan La Via and Ryan Hill of R&R Films say the experience of making the film over the last two years has been both humbling and enlightening. 

“The response [to the private screening] was more than we could have hoped for,” says Hill.  “There were sleepless nights, as this would be the first time many of the subjects had seen the film. We wanted to do right by them. And the response was overwhelmingly positive.”

Production-wise, the cinematography, sound engineering, and editing is comparable to any large studio feature. “We have incredible video production talent in Thunder Bay,” says director La Via, referring to the team of Hill, Matt King, Jessica Graham, Curtis Jensen, Jean-Paul De Roover, and Michael Kondakow. “It was an honour to have the production quality spoken of so highly by people in the business.”

La Via says the goal of making this film was always to reach the most people possible, to not only shed light on the issue but shatter stigmas and promote compassion for those struggling with addiction. This first showing is just the beginning, he says, of what they hope will be a long-term distribution plan.

A Sobering Story will have two showings at Silver City the evening of April 17. Tickets are available at the theatre prior to each show. Visit and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for show times and other updates.