New documentary film: Bill W.

A new documentary film about the life of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous will be shown in Portland October 7 – 11 at the Cinema 21 Theater.

READ – Bill W. by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times.
READ – Earning Lasting Fame for Being Anonymous, New York Times
READ – ‘Bill W.’ review: Co-founder of AA, San Francisco Chronicle

Interviews, recreations, and rare archival material reveal how Bill Wilson, a hopeless drunk near death from his alcoholism, found a way out of his own addiction and then forged a path for countless others to follow. With Bill as its driving force, A.A. grew from a handful of men to a worldwide fellowship of over 2 million men and women – a success that made him an icon within A.A., but also an alcoholic unable to be a member of the very society he had created. A reluctant hero, Bill Wilson lived a life of sacrifice and service, and left a legacy that continues every day, all around the world.

Bill W. took eight years of full-time work to complete. The filmmakers conducted research in dozens of archives and private collections, and interviewed A.A. members and historians in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Making a film about the founder of an anonymous society, especially one who died in 1971, presented many obstacles, of course. Very few people who knew Bill W. were still alive at the time this production began. At first, it seemed as if there would be very little visual material available for use in a film. But research and a healthy dose of good fortune allowed the producers to unearth film footage and photographs – including some that had never been seen before – and some new material that had not been included in previous written biographies of Bill Wilson. As a result, Bill W. presents a new look at the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.