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Huntington Film, ‘Back to the Bottle,’ debuted

By Staff | Apr 22, 2008

With the regal elegance of a glamorous first-nighter, Huntington’s nationally-known young filmmaker, Francesca E. Karle (pronounced ‘Kar-ley’) debuted her second film, “Back to the Bottle,” April 17, at Huntington’s Keith Albee.

Karle’s first film, “On the River’s Edge” highlighted homelessness in Huntington and won national attention on several network television shows. “Bottle” tells the story of Paul Meade, one of the homeless men from the first film. Meade has battled addiction all his life; he’s still doing it.

But for the Marshall University junior pre-med/journalism major, Paul Meade’s struggles have enlightened her to the suffering of addictions, which often contribute to homelessness.

Several of the homeless from “River’s Edge” have found homes and jobs. In fact, moderator for Thursday’s premiere, WSAZ’s Tim Irr, related a chance encounter he’d had just Thursday afternoon with three formerly homeless men. They told him, "We used to be homeless, but … (now) we live in Betty Barrett’s place," meaning Heisted House. No indication they were in the film, but perhaps along with all the other homeless help programs available, ‘River’s Edge’ has become a sort of tool in the ‘War on Homelessness.’ 

Meade, despite being hit by a truck, still struggles with his addiction. Instead of a ‘wake up’ call, the experience literally restarted his alcohol abuse.

In fact, his struggle was evident to those in attendance. He stumbled off the stage, albeit after doing an "Indiana Jones"-type drop and roll under the lowering movie screen that was coming down after the stage presentations and music. And, at the ‘wrap party,’ he resumed a stance that you can hear daily in downtown Huntington, “Do any you guys have a dime or quarter for a cigarette?”

As Karle explains it, he knows the problem, people care about him and he wants to make a change, yet he cannot break the cycle.

Despite Meade’s continuing battle with the bottle, Karle emphasizes the words of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose two appearances lend a ‘Hollywood"- type credence to the film — “it’s never too late to make the change.” Both Curtis and narrator, Clint Howard (Ron’s brother) are “very passionate about [addiction] because they have lived it.”

While Meade proclaims he’s “lived another day in paradise, thank you Jesus,” Karle reflects on life choices of her own. She has to ultimately decide between becoming a doctor like her father, or putting all her talents towards socially-conscious filmmaking.

She had not yet made the decision, but after a break (until graduating from MU), she will begin work on a third film. But she freely admits that viewer’s reactions to her films warm her heart.

"When people come up to me and say I’ve made a difference in their life … [it] always touches me," Karle said.

Meantime, her physics professor can breathe a sigh of relief because his class won’t be interrupted again by Karle saying, "I gotta take this call. It’s Jamie Lee Curtis.”