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Director seeks to open discussion about addiction with new film "Bottled Up"

Previously, wunderkind director Enid Zentelis spoke of her passion for telling stories and opening up conversations about personal and social challenges. Zentelis’ latest feature film focuses on a mother struggling to come to grips with her daughter’s dependence on prescription drugs. It’s a harrowing yet darkly humorous tale that touches the tender outer boundaries of all too many lives these days, especially in America, the land of addiction.

Josh Hamilton (left) and Melissa Leo (right) star in "Bottled Up."

Bottled Up premieres this Friday, January 24, 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Avenue North. It’s just one of the Seattle “Women in Cinema” festival’s highlights that moviegoers won’t want to miss this weekend, and Enid will be in attendance to talk about her film.

Zentelis likes to draw material from “personal experiences that I fictionalize,” and her original screenplay for Bottled Up stems from a family tragedy that Enid prefers not to discuss publicly. Instead, she seeks to speak to her audience through the film’s three main players: mother, daughter, and an energetic interloper who waltzes between their wayward worlds. It’s Enid’s hope that viewers will “allow themselves to get close to these three characters,” and take to heart their battle to overcome the disastrous effects of enabling behavior and the disabling despair of family conflict.

While there’s no shortage of pill-prescribing physicians who try to heal the physical manifestations of addiction and there’s a plethora of well-meaning counselors who attempt to interpret the psychological vagaries of toxic behavior, Zentelis laments that there doesn’t seem to be a holistic approach to the dilemma. “(These) problems are addressed myopically, reductively,” says Zentelis. She hopes that measures like the Affordable Health Care Act will at least allow all possible avenues of treatment to be examined.

“There will always be addicts and people in pain,” she admits, but “the majority of human beings are good and want to live productive lives.” While gigantic pharmaceutical companies reap record profits and expensive rehab clinics clutter the ravaged landscape of addiction, there is little effort to bring a broad discussion about mental health into the national spotlight. Little help for families stumbling through the maze of denial, enabling, and attempted intervention.

Perhaps America needs a societal paradigm shift. As a national family, so to speak, a good place to start would be telling our stories, sharing our struggles, asking for and offering help.

Films like Bottled Up and film-makers like Enid Zentelis just might help release the pressure of personal pain and public conflict that all too often goes unspoken and untreated. Just might create a positive atmosphere for constructive conversation.

A paradigm shift via the silver screen? Only in America.

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