Recovery High
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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ABOUT THE FILM

RECOVERY HIGH takes a vérité approach, getting to know the students by blending seamlessly into their daily routines. Director Steve Liss has filmed continuously for an entire academic year, from the first day of school through graduation.

We have not only captured the classes and activities typical of any high school, but also filmed therapy sessions, gut-wrenching crisis interventions and trips to the emergency room.

Due to this intimate access, we confront the raw anger, denial, guilt, and isolation that many of these young people experience.

But our journey also takes us through a deep sense of belonging. For many students Northshore Recovery High School is a surrogate family; a last, best hope for kids who no one else – not parents, not friends, not teachers or counselors – has been able to reach.

 

THE FOUNDER

Principal and founder Michelle Lipinski is a former science teacher, and a true believer in the school. “Addiction is a disease, not a choice,” she says. Lipinski argues that in far too many communities, the attitude toward addicted children is still punitive. A critical and controversial component of Northshore Recovery High School is her refusal to stop engaging with students who relapse. “I’ve seen too many kids give up on themselves and become completely isolated,” she says, “and then they don’t come back to school at all. Mostly they get sicker. Too often they die.” 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SOME OF THE SMARTEST, KINDEST, BRAVEST YOUNG PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH. THEY DON’T RUN AWAY FROM THE FIRE, THEY RUN TOWARDS IT.
— MICHELLE LIPINSKI principal & founder NRHS
 
 
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PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.

“I’d love to say every one of our kids are on that recovery rainbow, but they’re not,” says Principal Lipinski. “Addiction can be chronic and relapsing.” I ask the kids, ‘Are you looking out for each other? Because I can tell you right now, if one of you falls, you’ve got a dozen people picking you up. We’re going to lean on each other, and we’re going to get each other better.’ I would never give up on a kid. None of us would.”

The results have been encouraging. Of 265 students who have attended NSRH since its founding, 198 have graduated. Of those, more than half are currently stable in their lives, according to ongoing follow up research.

 
 
 
 
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THE TEAM

 

STEVE LISS DIRECTOR/PRODUCER 

Steve was a photographer at TIME magazine for 23 years, where he produced more than 40 cover photographs. He was a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Journalism and is currently an associate professor at Endicott College. In 2016 he directed the documentary SACRED COD, which premiered on the Discovery Channel. 

JOHN CONDNE PRODUCER 

John is the series producer of the critically acclaimed, AMERICA TO ME, a documentary miniseries that examines race and achievement at an Illinois high school. The film premiered at Sundance and is airing as a ten-part series on the Starz Network. He has been a producer of feature films and documentaries since 1993.

ZAK PIPER PRODUCER 

Zak is an Emmy-winning producer who recently produced LIFE ITSELF, for which he received the Producer’s Guild of America award for Outstanding Producer of a Documentary Motion Picture. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was also an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. 

LUCY MUNGER EDITOR 

Lucy edits for VICE, AMC and MoMa. Her work has screened worldwide, including at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and South by Southwest. FINDING FATHERHOOD, written and edited by Lucy for PBS, was nominated for a regional Emmy in addition to being named Public Service Program of the Year in Colorado

 
 

NICHOLAS DORR ASSOCIATE PRODUCER 

Nick is a director and designer for stage, film and television. His work has been seen in LIFE IS A HOUSE with Kevin Cline and ALBINO ALIGATOR starring Faye Dunaway. He has produced and directed numerous stage productions both in Los Angeles and New York.

BILL HEALY WRITER

Bill has reported extensively on drug use among suburban high school students for Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ. He won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for his work on THIS AMERICAN LIFE. Bill currently teaches at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 

CINEMATOGRAPHERS

Brandon Burg
Nikki Bramley
Allie Humenuk
Jake Nicolakakis
Ted Perotti
Michael Rotiroti0
Shyla Smith

 
 
 
 

Recovery High is produced by Ripple of Hope Films, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

All contributions to this film are tax deductible.

 
 
Director  Steve Liss  and sound recordist  Hayden Hinch . Photograph by David Le.

Director Steve Liss and sound recordist Hayden Hinch. Photograph by David Le.

“Working with Steve was like working with a member of our family. He treated our students and their families with respect and kindness and always listened to their cues to stop a scene because they felt vulnerable.  He was able to capture who we are and why we show up to school every day.” Michelle Lipinski, Principal of Recovery High

 
 
 

CONTACT US

Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 
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Email: steve@rippleofhopefilms.com

Phone: 708-721-2100

 

Recovery High is produced by Ripple of Hope Films, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization. All contributions to this film are tax deductible.