SAFFORD — Applause drowned out the sounds of sniffling and weeping as the end credits rolled on “Josiah.”
The 90-minute documentary about the life and overdose death of Josiah Kouts made its world premiere at the David M. Player Center for the Arts on Thursday, the second anniversary of his death, to a nearly capacity crowd.
“My mind is absolutely blown by the attendance. I never would have fathomed that we would fill this entire place up,” said Maria Kouts, Josiah’s mother and producer of the film. “I was looking around and saw wet eyes; I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. I think it was received well, I pray.”
The film features interviews with a number of Josiah’s family and friends and tracks his promise as a child and teen — including a perfect score on the ACT test — as well as his decent into heroin addiction, and how that cost him his relationship with his wife and others.
Experts on addiction were also interviewed, including members of BILY — Because I Love You — a support group for parents and youths dealing with addiction.
“I think we had the support of an entire community, and I’m blessed and happy that they see the value in what we did,” said director and producer Joe Carlini.
Carlini said the project took about 18 months to complete and pulls no punches, with on-camera interviews of Maria and Jason Kouts, Josiah’s father, about Jan. 23, 2018, the day they discovered their son’s lifeless body on the floor of a bedroom in their house. Photos of Josiah taken by first responders that day are used to drive home the lethal impact of addiction.
Josiah’s death has led Jason and Maria to begin fund-raising for the development of Josiah’s House, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility in the Gila Valley.
“The next step is we’re going to get (the film and message) in every city and town, small and large,” Maria said.
DVDs of the film and Maria’s book, “Josiah: One Family’s Journey of Being Broken Together,” were sold after the showing, and it can be ordered at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.