In 1999, Bill Wilson was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century for his role as co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. But 65 years earlier, in 1934, he had faced almost certain death from his uncontrollable drinking. At the time, medicine viewed alcoholism as a symptom of deeper psychiatric issues, and alcoholics were treated with lobotomies, shock therapy, or imprisonment. Despite this, Bill Wilson found a way to sobriety, and then forged a path for countless others to follow. With Bill as its driving force, A.A. grew from a handful of men to a worldwide fellowship of over 2 million men and women. Thousands of people throughout the world now credit him with saving their lives – both alcoholics and members of dozens of other 12 Step recovery groups. Bill’s leadership eventually made him an icon within A.A. – and a man unable to be a member of the very society he had created. Through interviews, recreations, and rare archival material, Bill W. traces Wilson’s life through his 17 years of devastating alcoholism, the crucial years of A.A.’s founding and growth, his battle with depression, his experimentation with LSD, and his struggle with celebrity status in an anonymous society. A reluctant hero, Bill Wilson lived a life of sacrifice and service, and left a legacy of recovery that continues every day, all around the world.
Bill W. took eight years of full-time work to complete. The filmmakers conducted research in dozens of archives and private collections, and interviewed A.A. members and historians in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Making a film about the founder of an anonymous society, especially one who died in 1971, presented many obstacles, of course. Very few people who knew Bill W. were still alive at the time this production began. At first, it seemed as if there would be very little visual material available for use in a film. But research and a healthy dose of good fortune allowed the producers to unearth film footage and photographs – including some that had never been seen before – and some new material that had not been included in previous written biographies of Bill Wilson. As a result, Bill W. presents a new look at the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
About the Filmmakers
Kevin Hanlon & Dan Carracino
Director / Producer
Kevin Hanlon, a New York City resident, and Dan Carracino, a California resident, are first-time filmmakers and life-long friends who had talked of making a film together since their days in high school. Both have seen first-hand the devastation of alcoholism, as well as the hope offered by Alcoholics Anonymous. After learning that no feature length documentary had ever been produced about the man who co-founded A.A. and authored its Twelve Steps, they decided to make Bill W.
Gil Talmi is a world-renowned, Emmy-nominated composer whose work focuses on socially conscious films. He has created music for a variety of award-winning films and TV programs, from productions for Warner Brothers, Paramount and Fox to pro bono collaborations with The International Rescue Committee and StoryCorps. Gil’s compositions reflect a wide spectrum of influences: by combining his traditional orchestral background with eclectic world music sensibilities, he has created a signature sound that can be heard in film and television productions worldwide.
Patrick Gambuti Jr.
Patrick Gambuti, Jr. is an editor and writer whose work has earned two Emmy awards. Over the past 25 years his films have explored a number of topics relating to social transformation. Whether it is through deeply committed environmentalists fighting the Japanese whaling fleet in At the Edge of the World; Arab soccer players using a game to transcend cultural bias in Israel in After the Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United; or prostitutes struggling to overcome their plight in Hookers and Johns: Trick or Treat, Patrick aims to touch the audience with his work so that the story and characters enrich the lives of his viewers as much as they have enriched his own.
Director of Photography
Ryo Murakami is a bi-lingual cinematographer based in New York and Tokyo. His cinematic style marries the calm, composed qualities of still photography with the incidental nature of documentary filmmaking. His list of clients includes the United Nations, the Japanese Ministry of Environment, and many contemporary hip-hop artists. Ryo’s work has appeared on HBO and PBS, and in premiere film festivals such as the Berlin International Film Festival, Tribeca, and SXSW.
Dahlia Kozlowsky is a New York-based documentary film producer. Over the past ten years she has worked on a wide range of projects as a producer and/or archival researcher. Her credits include Run for Your Life: The True Story of Fred Lebow and the NYC Marathon; Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven; Saving Hubble; Boy I Am; and Tight Media’s Sketch in the City – MF Gallery Episode. Dahlia is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s film program.
Born in Illinois and raised in Oklahoma, Mike Fox started his film career in 2006 after graduating with a degree in Film Production from Brooklyn College. In 2008, he produced his first feature film, INSIDE A CHANGE, which won Best Picture at the 2009 HBO International Latino Film Festival. Since INSIDE A CHANGE, Mike has produced other films, music videos, and commercials for clients such as Amex and Google. Currently he is producing a feature documentary on the wage disparity between men and women.
Disclosure Regarding AA Membership
The filmmakers are not members of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). This film does not have any affiliation with or endorsement from A.A. Neither the film nor the filmmakers speak for A.A. or represent it in any way. The filmmakers are deeply committed to telling an accurate history of the life and work of Bill W. and the founding and history of A.A. This film is not intended to promote or to criticize A.A. in any way.