Thursday, May 17, 2012


Bill W.: The First Intimate Documentary
The AA co-founder had to wait 40 years after his death for an up-close and personal documentary, complete with a never-before-seen archival trove. The filmmakers explain what took so long.

By Heather King

In 1999, AA co-founder Bill Wilson was listed by Time magazine in its “100 Persons of the Century” issue. Amazingly, however, we have very little on film about his life and work. There are two Hallmark productions: 1989’s My Name Is Bill W., which tells his story, and 2010’s When Love Is Not Enough, which tells the story of his wife, Lois Wilson, a co-founder of Al-Anon Family Groups. There’s a 1946 “March of Time” newsreel, with photos or footage of AA’s offices but not of the man himself.

Enter producer Dan Carracino and director Kevin Hanlon (both of Page 124 Productions) who, way back in 2003, became fascinated both by Bill’s story and by the phenomenon of AA. Almost a decade in the making, their documentary, Bill W., opens Friday in a host of theaters in New York City, New Jersey, Orange County and Los Angeles.

Neither of you are alcoholics. Why Bill Wilson?

Kevin Hanlon: Dan and I have been friends since high school and always wanted to make a film together. About eight years ago we got serious about it and at that time I just happened to be reading Ernest Kurtz’s book about AA history, Not-God. I found it to be a page-turner—from the first scene where Kurtz describes Bill W. and Ebby [Thacher, an old drinking buddy of Bill’s and, by some accounts, his eventual sponsor] sitting at the kitchen table in front of a bottle of gin, I wanted to know who this guy was and what happened.

Read the rest here!...

*Friends and fans. I'm gonna put off that sequel money-post till next week. But it's a-comin...


  1. Thanks for posting this! I have never seen the first movie but I did see the sequel with Rider. I thought it was very good. It didn't flinch from portraying Bill W as a pretty rotten person, but it didn't make him a monster, either. Same with Lois -- it didn't portray her as either a saint or a doormat. I think the filmmakers were trying to show that she stayed with him because she really loved him, that unconditional love can mean a lot of suffering, and there isn't always a happy ending int his life. I don't think it was entirely successful in not showing her as a doormat, but I do think that was the intention. It kind of said, "Look, some people are like this. And you have to deal with them as they are." It is amazing to think of all the people they helped, even if they were not perfect themselves. -- Gail Finke

  2. A documentary that this somehow puts me in mind of is called Sister Helen (2002).

    If she's a saint she's one with really rough edges and a soul that just absorbs alcoholics and others into the love of Christ the most unchurchy way.

    IMDB "n this emotionally compelling documentary, Sister Helen opens a private home for recovering addicts and alcoholics in the South Bronx after the death of her..."

  3. Didn't see the movie, but read your article. Beginning to see the origin -- at least in our culture -- of what you you have been saying about our brokenness: how God not only loves us there, but especially there, since our very weakness cries out to him the most fervently.

    In response to the Pharisees' murmuring " ... I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

  4. Thanks for the article/interview about the new Bill W. documentary. Peace, Love, Hope,

  5. Hope to get to see the film.
    My friend is playing Anne Smith.

    I hope your Mom is feeling better.


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