Archive for November 15th, 2008

Dana, Phil and Addiction

November 15, 2008

From Producer/Director, Rhonda Moskowitz

We are following  Dana and Phil, who are the young Jewish parents of three year old, Elijah. Both Dana and Phil were incarcerated during most of Elijah’s second year of life. You can see their photographs on the photos page of the film’s web site.

We first filmed 23 year old Dana when she was in a maximum security prison, one month away from giving birth to her daughter. This prison is the only state facility that houses pregnant females. How did Dana, who was born to a middle class Jewish family, a successful student and editor of her high school newspaper, end up pregnant and incarcerated?

Phil had been released from jail the day before we first filmed him. Handsome, charismatic and intelligent, he has a strong spiritual connection to Judaism and had been working with a Rabbi  while incarcerated to help himself change. Phil had stolen from his aunt and a few days before his release, his aunt unexpectedly passed away. The Rabbi, who coincidentally had performed Phil’s Bar Mitzvah 10 years before, had plans to continue to work with Phil after his release. However, a short time after Phil got out, the Rabbi suddenly died. These two monumental losses sent Phil into a downward spiral of loss, grief and guilt.

Both Phil and Dana struggle with addiction to Oxycontin. The drug ‘s addictive powers are enormous. Oxyncontin shattered their lives and their families lives. They’ve betrayed and hurt their loved ones and also committed crimes out of desperation to get ahold of this terrible drug.

Our film is just as much a film about drug addiction as it is a film about Jewish prisoners. There is addiction in my family and also in the cinematographer, Sean’s family. Some of our film shoots are so harrowing, I don’t know how Sean can even hold the camera.

Dana and Phil are young and have their whole lives ahead of them. They also have a wonderful young son and Dana has a baby daughter.  I hope they can mend their broken lives.  I’m rooting for them.

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Rosol

November 15, 2008

Notes from Producer/Director, Rhonda Moskowitz

Rosol, the extraordinary woman who is Philip’s mother and Martin Grossman’s aunt

We walked into a tragedy when we first filmed our families. Myra, the aunt of Philip, our main character, and the sister of Rosol, Phil’s mother, had unexpectedly passed away two days before any of us had met. There was a 20 year age difference between Myra and Rosol, but the two sisters were very close.  Myra’s son, Martin, is on Death Row. Myra, who was in her early 70s, came to live with Rosol and her husband Paul, two months before she died. Paul had converted his and Rosol’s garage into a large bedroom just for Myra and two months later she was gone.

Rosol opened up her life and her big heart to us, which still to this day, deeply touches me.  We were complete strangers who had flown in to film her and her family and Myra’s death was a big loss. The situation was also complicated by the fact that Rosol’s son, Phil, had stolen from his Aunt Myra to support his Oxycontin habit and in a couple of days, Phil was being released from jail.  Rosol has experienced more tragedy and heartbreak than one person can possibly endure. She has an expansive heart, great spirit,  a wonderful sense of humor and I love her.