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Award-winning documentary 'Jacinta' follows a young woman in her struggle with addiction

The film will screen this week in Bangor as part of the Points North Recovery in Maine program.

MAINE, USA — "Jacinta" is an award-winning documentary that profiles a family caught in the grips of addiction and incarceration. Jacinta is both a daughter and a mother. The relationships in the movie are complex, and the story is powerful.

The film is being screened in Maine as part of the Points North Institute Recovery in Maine program with the hope of encouraging conversation to address the stigma around addiction and substance abuse. 207 spoke with filmmaker Jessica Earnshaw, Sean Flynn from Points North, and Jacinta Hunt to talk about the film.

Jessica Earnshaw was working on another project at the Maine Correctional Center when she met mother and daughter — Rosemary and Jacinta — both who were incarcerated and recovering from drug addiction. When Earnshaw met them, she felt compelled to share their story.

"Seeing them together and their relationship I was just really struck by the love and the banter and the closeness," she said. 

Growing up in Maine, Jacinta Hunt did not understand why her mother seemed to come and go.

"I really believed that for most of my childhood — like before ten — that my mom was really not there," she said. "I guess, you know, doing the film, and gathering more information on myself, I guess my mom was there in and out through her addiction and incarceration. But being in the space I was able to be in when my mom came back I just absorbed her  as an individual."

"It wasn’t until later that I realized that my mom was suffering from addiction," she continued. "And once I realized what it was, my father never put my mom down, never told me she was in jail, never told me she was an addict, he just left it. Once I realized that my mom was an addict and struggling with addiction and incarceration I kind of took that in as, ‘Well, if this is what I have to do to be super close to my mom, then I’m gonna do this.’"

"We just had had so much time apart that when we did come back together I was a little bit older and we were more like friends and you know," Jacinta recalled. "You do what you’re friends do."

Points North Institute organizes the Camden International Film Festival as well as other programs around the state like Recovery in Maine. The film has already been screened in Maine a few times.

"We just wanted to use these really powerful documentary films as a way to bring communities together to highlight the experiences and the perspectives of people in recovery, people seeking recovery, and folks that were really on the front lines of trying to find solutions, pulling together resources, and making their communities more recovery ready," Flynn, of Points North, said. "It’s a powerful thing to show a film like this in a community and have many people in almost every audience that we’ve been with raise their hands and say, 'This reflects my own experience,' or, 'This reflects the experience of my daughter, my son, my co-worker.' Those are the moments when you can really break down the stigma and recognize this is a very common experience but it's one that when we’re able to pull together as a community we’re much more powerful to address."

When we spoke, Jacinta was nearly 8 months sober.

"My biggest fear is I didn’t know where I was gonna start," she said. "The film opened the door for me and for other people to invite me to see things and experience great things and be in like-minded conversations and being able to watch myself be comfortable in those moments and be proud of this film and be proud of my family and the way that we’ve used it within our own family to heal has been a gift in itself."

I asked Jessica how it felt to have Jacinta speak about the film that way. 

"I was thinking that when she was talking," Jessica said. "This is like the greatest gift for me personally as a filmmaker. To have Jacinta like take the film and build her own story from it … you know, and, I mean, I don't know. I have no words. I just feel so ... I’m just like it’s the greatest gift, honestly."

The film will be screened at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Bangor Arts Exchange on Exchange Street. Agencies involved in recovery work will be on hand to answer questions about the work that they do.