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Beachside bender: Lead chararcter struggles to overcome alcoholism, arrest

Annika Marks, left, and Chase Mowen find love in the film “Grace.

Annika Marks, left, and Chase Mowen find love in the film “Grace.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Film and Media Experience is about bringing awareness to various social issues.

This year, the seven-day festival will be screening “Grace.” The film stars Annika Marks and Sharon Lawrence and follows Grace, played by Marks, as she deals with alcoholism.

Marks says Grace goes out on a binge and wakes up on a Florida beach, half-dressed and 1,100 miles from home. And this time, her father – who also knows about the tragedy of addiction from his struggles with Grace’s mom – isn’t going to clean things up.

Grace – who is suspicious and distrustful of everyone, including a cafe owner with a troubled history of her own – prefers the relief of alcohol, which had always worked for her.

When she’s arrested for public drunkenness and attacking a police officer, she is given a choice – six months in jail or 90 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in 90 days, and she has to do it in the small town she’s landed in.

The film will screen at 7 p.m. June 7 at the Lobo Theatre, 3013 E. Central.

Marks says playing Grace was a challenge for her because she didn’t know too much about alcoholism.

“I went to AA meetings and just took notes on everything,” Marks says. “It was important for (me) to see the early recovery for an addict. Grace doesn’t know anything about 12 steps or counselors. It’s all new to her and I wanted to delve into how that feels.”

The production took place in Florida for about two months.

Marks says the filmmakers took a chance on her as the lead because she is still developing her name in Hollywood.

Marks was also the catalyst in helping get Lawrence to attach herself to the film.

“I had written her a letter about the project and how perfect she would be,” Marks says. “What’s crazy is that Sharon read it and started doing her own research. It took a little bit of time, but she signed on and she made the entire movie better.”

Marks says working with Lawrence was an experience that she’ll never forget.

“She just brought so much to the film,” she says. “The film is already very heavy and Sharon helped pull that side out of me as well.”

“Grace” premiered at the Nashville Film Festival and will have its second screening in the Duke City.

“I think the entire cast is looking forward to this screening,” she says. “I’ve never been to Albuquerque before, but I’ve been told that this is one of the most fun festivals.”

To see a full film and event schedule, visit abqfilmexperience.com.

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