Alexandria Film Festival Reviews: ‘Guest House’ is about hope and second chances

Alexandria Film Festival Reviews: ‘Guest House’ is about hope and second chances
(Photo/Alexandria Film Festival)

By Kassidy McDonald

“Guest House,” by filmmakers Hannah Dweck and Yael Luttwak, opens by following Maddison, a recovering addict who was recently released from Arlington County Jail; Grace, a recovering addict; and Selena, another recovering addict, through their journey in a re-entry program in Alexandria.

The film explains and shows the importance of re-entry programs after prison. The Guest House serves more than 200 women per year, helping them adjust to life post-prison and after their addiction. Without treatment programs, 80% of recovering addicts will relapse within a couple months, but people who graduate from the Guest House program have only a 10% chance of relapsing. These are facts that most people do not know about re-entry programs, and it causes the viewer to think about all the good these programs can do for recovering addicts.

The program takes place over a six-month period, two months at Guest house, four months at an independent living apartment facility and then an optional 18 months at an after-care house.

The film closely follows the three women and their experiences within the program, learning how to be accepted and be held accountable within the community. There are women from all different walks of life, levels of education and backgrounds who live in the Guest House and are trying their best to avoid being caught in the cycle of being in and out of prison. They tell their personal stories of how they became addicts, and reflect on their time in prison. The one-on-one interviews with the women offers the viewer an insight into their lives and experiences, making you root for their recovery.

The film continues to show the success of Grace and Maddison, who live in an after-care facility together. Selena ends up getting a job as a cook, but relapses. She tries to begin the recovery process again after being forced to leave the after-care facility. Grace started a new internship and Maddison now works at a non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated people find jobs.

“Guest House” ends by sharing where these women are now and also hearing from some of the people who operate the program. They express the need for understanding and acceptance. There need to be more opportunities for treatment and rehabilitation in this country, like Guest House programs, so that recovering addicts can be integrated back into society. The documentary shines an important light on the Guest House’s treatment and rehabilitation program, which promotes integration back into society for recovering addicts instead of just being locked up in prison.