Bill W. | Southpoint Cinemas | Special Events | Indy Week
This is a past event.
When: Sept. 14-21 2012
One of the more unsung yet hugely influential figures of the 20th century—some would put him on the level of Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Albert Einstein—is one William G. Wilson. Although it's a bland name that brings to mind only gray flannel suits and daily commutes to work, to millions of people who regularly gather discreetly to help each other through ruinous addictions, this person, better known as Bill W., changed their lives. His full name was only revealed upon his death, when he was hailed for having founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid-1930s, after 17 years of suffering as an alcoholic.

In this new documentary, we learn that Bill W. was a stock speculator, a job that gave him a front row seat to America's mid-century exuberance and folly: from the 1920s stock market bubble and the Depression to the discovery of psychology and the generations of men striving upward with self-help advice from the likes of Dale Carnegie. When Bill W. finally found sobriety, he set out to help others as part of a quasi-religious renunciation of his ego. His approach, a synthesis of spiritual, psychological and medical insights, led to a remarkable mutual aid society that has spread around the world.

Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino's documentary is an engrossing mixture of archival footage (including numerous vocal and visual recordings of Bill W.), talking-head interviews and tastefully, believably executed reenactments. Although we hear from many unreserved admirers, the film steers clear of hagiography. By the end, we're marveling at the suffering, perseverance and sacrifice of this man, who achieved 37 years of sobriety but nonetheless begged for a drink on his deathbed. This powerful and informative film opens Friday for a limited engagement. Visit streetsatsouthpoint.com/movies. —David Fellerath

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