The Creative High a feature length documentary

Friday 17th November 2023
7:30 pm

Pay What You Can Event

Event Description

The Creative High is a documentary film featuring nine artists in recovery from addiction who are transformed by creativity in their turbulent search for identity and freedom. Adriana Marchione’s documentary, The Creative High, created in collaboration with Producer Dianne Griffin, follows nine artists in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction revealing the transformative quality of the creative process, empowering us to wake up to our true selves. Their stories reveal how art has been a ballast while confronting old addictive habits and finding a new “high” through a creative life. Bringing the viewers into the worlds of hip-hop, drag
performance, punk music, and featuring artists who create dance, theatre, and visual art, The Creative High conveys a message of hope in an ailing world.

The Creative High introduces us to a diverse group of artists in recovery including choreographer and performance artist Luis Canales (aka Strobe), hip-hop musician Brandon Michael Randle (aka Dopeless) and expressive artist and educator Lessa Clark. Rock musicians showcased are Wes Geer (founder of Rock to Recovery), formally of KORN and Hed PE, and Ralph Spight, who formed the underground punk band Victims Family and plays with Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys. Featuring Visual artist Kathy Page is actively making art in her 70s, photographer and producer Joan Osato, theatre artist and drag performer Peter Griggs (aka U-Phoria), who started a premiere sober drag show in San Francisco (Mascara Show), and stone sculptor and musician Jason Bernhardt. The Creative High illustrates that creative expression can be a key element to sustain recovery. Art makes us come alive whether we are witnessing it or engaging in it. To find a stronger foundation in recovery, one must feel enlivened and empowered. The documentary highlights the struggle to maintain equilibrium as one delves into the creative process and reveals how a “natural high” and spiritual awakening can be found without substances.

The film’s concept was inspired by director Adriana Marchione (, who has been active in her own recovery from alcoholism since 1993. When she got sober, she didn’t have role models or a framework to create art in recovery. Since then, Marchione has dedicated much of her life’s work to understanding the role of creativity in supporting people with substance use disorders through her career as an expressive arts therapist and somatic movement educator. She has an extensive background in the arts and made her debut as a filmmaker with her short film When the Fall Comes ( (2014), depicting her personal journey with grief and healing. As Marchione embarked on making this feature-length documentary, she brought on veteran San Francisco filmmaker Dianne Griffin ( as producer, who has been making films for over thirty years, including the award-winning documentary Painted Nails One Woman’s rise to Activism in the face of adversity and White Hotel which premiered at the New Directors New Film Series at MOMA in New York and Film at Lincoln Center. Griffin contributed pivotal creative input to The Creative High, offering her vision, commitment and expertise. Dianne Griffin’s creative work as a documentary filmmaker is a doorway into how she looks at the world, which has been deeply influenced and transformed by Zen Buddhism and recovery practice. 2 Over the years of making the film, Marchione and Griffin have maintained strong relationships with the artist subjects (aka collaborators), keeping them informed and engaged in the process while sharing their intimate stories. In light of the stigma that still exists around addiction, it is crucial that real stories from people with substance use disorders, many of whom have a history of trauma, are willing to speak openly on camera. Without the active commitment of the subjects to work on the documentary with the filmmakers, we would not have the dynamic and honest film that has been created. Overdoses are the #1 cause of accidental death in our country. According to the CDC, there were over 100,000 fatal overdoses in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, from April 2020 to April 2021. That’s the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year. *National Center for Health Statistics The Creative High had its world premiere at the 24th San Francisco Independent Festival on February 6, 2022, receiving the ‘Special Jury Prize for American Profiles’. The film will be shown at treatment centres, behavioural health facilities, zen centres, art schools, museums, universities, etc. to further the film’s reach and bring educational opportunities surrounding art as a resource for mental health and recovery.
Adriana Marchione, Director, has been involved in the arts for over thirty years as a filmmaker, dancer, and photographer and is internationally recognized for her work as a movement-based expressive arts therapist and educator. Since 2002, Adriana has taught at the renowned Tamalpa Institute WHEAT Institute in Canada and founded her own wellness centre in San Francisco. She has presented her creative healing approach, with a focus on addiction, eating disorders, trauma and grief, at festivals, conferences, and treatment centres, including South by Southwest, National Council on Alcoholism and Studio le théâtre du Corps in Paris. Adriana created When the Fall Comes in 2014, a performance project that culminated in a short film based on her own life story, encountering intimate grief and loss. When the Fall Comes was translated into French and Korean and streamed in universities across America and Canada through Kanopy. She has been in recovery from alcoholism for 30 years and was awarded Artist of the Year by ‘In Recovery’ magazine in 2016. Find more about Adriana’s work,

Dianne Griffin, Producer, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, teacher, and public speaker and has been making films for over 30 years based in San Francisco, California. Dianne makes documentaries that explore the uniqueness of the ordinary, catching moments that become extraordinary, bringing to light valuable stories and their relation to social change, and her belief that the personal is political. Her documentaries have been broadcast nationwide on PBS and internationally, screened at theatres, film festivals, schools, universities, museums, libraries, community events and on streaming platforms such as Kanopy. In 2016, Dianne co-created the documentary Painted Nails, which follows Van Nguyen’s personal story encompassing both the immigrant’s journey and one woman’s rise to activism in the face of adversity, premiering to standing ovations and sold-out shows. Her documentary White Hotel shot in Eritrea, Africa premiered at the New Directors, New Film Series at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and
Film at Lincoln Center. As a filmmaker, Dianne is passionate about the exploration of what it means to be alive. Find out more about Dianne’s work by visiting

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