‘Josiah’ to premiere Thursday, January 23

Photo By Heather Marie Photography/Courtesy Jason and Maria Kouts: A film chronicling the life and tragic death of Jason and Maria Kouts’ son, Josiah, will be screened at the David M. Player Center for the Arts on Thursday, Jan. 23. Josiah Kouts had loving family support. That family is now helping support the construction of a local rehabilitation center in his memory.

World premiere to be at David M. Player Center for the Arts

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – On Jan. 23, 2018, Jason and Maria Kouts’ lives were forever altered after suffering the grief no parent should ever have to shoulder through when they found their son, Josiah, deceased from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin. 

To honor Josiah and bring attention to the opioid epidemic, a film by Upper Midwest Emmy award-winning director Joe Carlini titled “Josiah” will premiere on the two-year anniversary of his passing on Thursday, Jan. 23, at the David M. Player Center for the Arts. Doors will open for the event at 5:30 p.m. 

“Josiah” showcases the life of Josiah Kouts, and is “a story of a young man who falls into the dark path of drugs,” according to its description on its Indiegogo support page here. Those who wish to support the film and its mission to screen it throughout the country can select a perk and donate here. Tickets will also be available at the door of the event for $10 – cash only. 

In the weeks after Josiah’s passing, Jason and Maria looked to each other for solace. They also found strength in telling their son’s story to the Gila Herald, and Maria penned the first three parts of our special five-part series. Click here to re-read the series. 

It was from those writings that drew Carlini’s attention and planted a seed to make a feature film. The series also prompted Maria to expand her thoughts to a full-length book. The result, “Josiah – One family’s journey of being broken together” was recently published by Awaken Village Press and will be available at the premiere for a special price of $10 per copy.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Jason and Maria Kouts: One of Josiah’s goals was to return to Europe.

“I tried to make the book as raw and vulnerable and open as I could to try to let other families know that they’re not alone and the things that they are experiencing are normal,” Maria said. “It’s really just trying to help families.”   

Working on the book and participating and helping with the movie was a form of catharsis for Maria which helped her cope with the tragedy of losing her son. 

“Grief is love that has nowhere to go,” she said. “I realized if I left it sitting in me it was going to eat me alive. So, it was a means of channeling that love toward others.”

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Jason and Maria Kouts:

Maria also looked to her faith in Jesus Christ and his tendency to take on shame head-on. 

“He left us with the example that we can also do that,” she said. “So, as a community, if we can take on the shame together, I believe that Graham County can literally be the forerunners of taking this epidemic on – and together, we’re strong.”

What: “Josiah” world premiere 

Where: David M. Player Center for the Arts

When: Thursday, Jan. 23, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 in cash at the event or donation on Indiegogo