The film, “Lost in Woonsocket,” aired on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network on Sunday, bringing to a wide audience filmmaker John Chester’s moving documentary about addiction, recovery and redemption.
In 2005, while filming a documentary TV show in Woonsocket, R.I., Chester and his crew discovered two homeless alcoholics living in the woods who had been missing from their families for years. The filmmakers’ offer to assist the men in getting their lives back on track sets into motion a profound series of events that tested the faith of everyone involved. What happened revealed the power of a simple helping hand extended to two men seemingly beyond any hope of redemption. “Lost in Woonsocket” is a gritty, real-life story of love, faith and forgiveness, a testimonial to saving the world—one life at a time.
“The one thing I think people see in this film is that redemption is possible,” Chester says in a short video update on the film.
The update, which aired along with the film as part of OWN’s “Super Soul Sunday,” provided an update on the life of Normand Cartier, one of the two men introduced to sobriety through the film. Today, Cartier is executive vice president of transitional housing and social development for Lost and Found in America, where he is focused on developing transitional housing and centralized community resource centers for the homeless and addicted.
Cartier now lives in Winnemucca, Nev., with his new wife, Candace.
“In recovery, they say you need to change people, places and things; that’s exactly what Normand did,” Chester says.
“Lost in Woonsocket” has been on tour since 2007, with Normand often speaking at the screenings, which mostly have taken place in treatment centers, churches and prisons.
“Every time I speak, someone asks me what happened to Mark,” Normand says of his former tent mate, who got sober before Normand and helped bring Normand into recovery. “He’s still out there,” Normand says.
“I just want people to get this,” Normand says. “Why Mark don’t get this, it’s killing me.”
“And that’s the one thing we have learned: that we cannot control anything,” Chester says. “But the one thing we can control is to continue to take those steps forward.”