Felon O’Reilly The Documentary

It’s Christmas eve and the moonlight reflects off the razor wire. And no one can see it yet, but a change is happening. The routine sounds of prison have been replaced by something far more scarce on the inside—laughter. “Joycie” has them all going, line after line, gag after gag. It’s his fifth bid in the joint; he’s been a drunk and a drug addict for 25 years; his committed crimes number in the thousands; but tonight is different. Tonight is better than the drugs ever were. And tonight, for the first time, he thinks it might be possible to live without them. Hope has finally come to Al Joyce and with it, an unlikely activist has just taken his first step.
Unflinchingly honest, unusually entertaining, and undeniably uplifting, Felon: Laughing on the Inside(working title) is along for the ride as Al Joyce tries to make amends with a dark past and fulfill his self-appointed mission of bringing a message of hope to those weathering the storms he wants to believe are behind him. As “Felon O’Reilly”, Al brings his distinctive blend of recovery and comedy to adolescent offenders, adult support groups, and to prisons across the Northeast. These are uncharted waters, he insists, and getting the support he needs is a constant challenge that won’t be beat with jokes alone.

With Al, there are no bones about it: he’s a felon and an addict and if he doesn’t stay clean, he’ll probably be dead before too long. While diving deep into the disease of addiction and exploring the workings of the criminal mind, this documentary also shares in Al’s revelations about the successes of a normal, everyday life. It will look to life beyond initial recovery, where felons and addicts work to become contributing members of society again. Having Al as a candid guide navigating the recovery world, Felon: Laughing on the Inside takes on the paradox of a system largely based on anonymity and the fight against the stigma of addiction, in part fostered by that same need to remain anonymous.

Currently in the first stages of production, Felon: Stand Up Convict will follow Al as he nears his 5-years sober mark, pushes ahead with his “recovery tour”, touches the lives of his “audience”, and tries to secure his biggest and most important show to date—the Worcester (Massachusetts) County House of Corrections, Al’s “alma mater”, as he calls it (he was incarcerated there six times over seventeen years). Along the way he will continue to confront the challenges of recovery’s daily struggles, of finding support for his unorthodox approach in an era of addiction treatment budget cuts, and of starting a new career as he nears fifty. Once hustling for drugs, guns, and booze, we’ll watch as Al now works tirelessly to take his former failings and make them strengths. “This is the year,” he says with a grin, “people have told me that. And I can feel it.”

Addiction and crime touch us all in countless ways; Felon: Stand Up Convict ill have naturally broad television and film festival audiences. This film will carry important lessons and insights for people of all ages and backgrounds. As a teaching tool, it will be valuable in schools, support groups, treatment centers, and prisons alike.

Al “Felon O’Reilly” Joyce has appeared at Day One Youth Services, Friends of Recovery, and prisons in Maine, Vermont, and New York. He used to get recommendations suggesting life in prison. Now he gets recommendations from prison boards and the District Attorney’s office championing his recovery tour. Day One awarded him with the Making A Difference award.

All donations to “Felon: Stand Up Convict” are tax-deductible.

Donations and grants to “Felon: Stand Up Convict” should be made to MeSAF, with “Felon film” on the “memo” line of the check and sent to:

MeSAF c/o MASAP8 Mulliken Court
Augusta, ME 04330
MeSAF is the Maine Substance Abuse Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit.

For more information, please contact Ben Kahn at www.kahnfilms.com.