Welcome to Tolono
USA, 2007, 84 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Black Comedy, Drama, Substance Abuse
Mark Roberts adapted his own tragicomic stage play to bring to the screen ex-con Dean Sanders and the odd lot who attends the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting he organizes in a church basement, where they struggle to connect beyond the reach of their nosy, hypocritical neighbors.
Newly released from prison after doing time for a drug-related offense, Dean returns to his hometown, the farming community of Tolono, Illinois. Finding work there will be hard enough, founding an AA chapter even harder – but Dean is determined. Reverend Mitchell relents and a ragtag array of locals shows up, each bringing with them the unique, badly mismatched baggage that contains and explains their addictions.
Though Joyce Woodcock, 50, describes herself as a drunk, of more pressing concern is the suicidal depression she faces following the abandonment of her husband of 30 years. Long-haul truck driver Red Merrel is there to address a sex addiction that's gotten the better of him. Meth-dependent stripper Natalie Darnell must come to terms with an abusive past. A woman whose daughter has died in a car accident drowns her sorrows in wine; a young coke fiend yearns for adventure. As they all forge alliances to face their inner demons, they must also consider the forces arrayed against them out there – made up of the small-minded folk of a small town.
Roberts, a Tolono native, is a seasoned stand-up comedian with numerous TV guest appearances to his credit (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends”); he also co-produces and writes for the successful CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”
In person – Mark Roberts
DIRECTOR: Mark Roberts
Producer: Mark Roberts, Shadie Elnashai, Michael Mapes
Editor: Michael Mapes
Screenwriter: Mark Roberts
Cinematographer: Michael Mapes