-Who is Angelena Bonet?
I am an Australian multi-award winning, documentary filmmaker, singer-songwriter and humanitarian. I have my own production company Crystal Heart Productions and have created five documentary films, their original soundtracks and music videos, plus two web series Heart Of The Matter and The Angelena Bonet Show. I write, direct, edit and produce my work in its entirety, including co-writing and singing the soundtracks and I would describe it “purely as a labor of love”! My projects include a documentary feature film tetralogy consisting of Angelena: Change The World, Angelena: Heart Of The Matter, Angelena: Light At The End Of The Tunnel and Angelena: Warrior Woman. I have also created a documentary short film Change The World which recently screened in Hollywood, Sweden, Italy, France, South America and Japan. I am proud to share my personal story of triumph over adversity and my songs, which have won over 300 film festival awards worldwide so far, including numerous ‘Best Inspirational Film’, ‘Best Social Justice Film’, ‘Best Original Soundtrack’ and ‘Best Music Video’ awards. It has been such an honor to be the recipient of the ‘Humanitarian Award’ at the Jane Austen International Film Festival in the U.K. and the ‘Human Spirit Award’ at the DOCS Without Borders Film Festival in The Bahamas. My films feature the Original Music Soundtrack I co-wrote and sung from my heart and soul with my late fiancé, Erick Deeby. He had written and recorded instrumental pieces of music for me between 2005 and 2007, then suddenly and unexpectedly passed away three days after we got engaged in August 2007. I then wrote the lyrics and melody to his music after his devastating death and during my time of deepest grief. I unintentionally wrote the album like chapters of a book and feature songs such as Change The World, Tragic Fairytale and On My Way and the writing process was cathartic and organic. I promised my late fiancé whilst in a coma that someday, somehow I would finish our special project and I kept my word. My documentary film Change The World is now available on YouTube as well as my online talk show Heart Of The Matter which won the Social Awareness Award (Award of Excellence) at the Vegas Movie Awards. I love interviewing inspiring women all around the world and from all walks of life and I am dedicated to having women’s voices heard. I have been a Jury member of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA) for the past four years. My journey from being named Australian Supermodel to multi-award winning singer-songwriter, documentary filmmaker and humanitarian has been a magical and challenging journey thus far. I am committed to shining a light on violence against women and my message is one of peace, love and unity.
–What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
It has been an organic journey for me and becoming a professional model was what opened doors to dancing in music videos, acting in TV and Film and putting into practice all the skills I had honed growing up. I met Erick in my twenties and we spent so much time at his recording studio where I got to watch his bands record, mix the tracks and shoot music videos. I would go with him to buy recording gear too so I was absorbing it all and learning about the music industry. We then began collaborating on our album end of 2005 when I returned from modeling in Milan and he became my mentor. I really worked on my songwriting as well as my recording technique and developed over the next couple of years as an artist. He believed in me, knew my potential and really encouraged me to find my own voice. When he passed away it was very difficult to deal with. I was in such deep grief and shock because it was so sudden and only three days after we got engaged. I was also terrified of the intensity of the pain and how I was ever going to recover. I could never have imagined I would be writing the lyrics and melody to the instrumental pieces of music he had written for me with him gone. The music was my sole focus as I had promised him while he was in a coma that I would finish our special project and having that promise to keep was what essentially saved my life. So over the next few months I just wrote every word and note from my heart and soul and then realized each song was like a chapter in a book. As each song was written I noticed I was healing and my emotions were being given an outlet and I am extremely grateful to Erick for this magical gift. As much as I don’t like admitting it, I don’t think I would be here without having a way to channel my emotions. As I was healing I then felt strong enough to return to work and began modelling again. In early 2010 I then signed with a talent agent in New York and moved to Toronto, Canada. I fell in love with the city, the people and loved working in their TV and Film industry. I hosted the FIFA World Cup Show that year and was on an episode of the TV Series ‘Ghostly Encounters’. I came home in 2012 for a visit and six days later I was a victim of a horrific violent crime in Melbourne. Once again my life was turned upside down and I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the crime and had to also deal with the police investigation. This experience changed my life and today I can say for the better. It completely opened my eyes to the pain of this world and the cruelty that some human beings are capable of inflicting and also opened my heart with a feeling of immense compassion for all of us women who have suffered. To say I was disgusted with my perpetrators is an understatement and I’d never felt such rage. Once again I was suicidal and this time I really didn’t think I could go on. I also lost loved ones afterwards and that was when I decided enough was enough and I was going to go public with this injustice. I was told by one of my case workers at the time that sexual violence against women is a silent global epidemic and that 1 in 3 women and girls will experience some kind of abuse in their lifetime. I couldn’t bear to think of another woman going through similar suffering and I felt a very strong desire in my heart to help other people. This was before the #MeToo movement began and no-one was talking about sexual violence but I found my courage and made the commitment that I would not be silenced, nor would I own any shame for their behaviour. I then began my humanitarian work in 2013 by aligning myself with ethical non-profit organizations that support women and girls. I believe that when we come together, with united voices, we can change the world. I started my production company Crystal Heart Productions when I returned to Toronto in September 2014 and I put all my energy into this. I wanted to channel my skills in front and behind the cameras into a show for women that had purpose and meaning. And that is how my vision for my talk show Heart Of The Matter was born. It was created to allow women to not just be seen but heard and in turn inspire each other. When I won the ‘Social Awareness Award’, the category that Vegas Movie Awards created after watching my show, I was truly touched because this project means so much to me. To contribute positively to society is what is really important to me. My journey has been very challenging and painful but also really beautiful and magical. I have gone with the flow and always followed my heart and woven my life into my art and I am very proud of what I’ve been able to overcome.
-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?
I absolutely do believe that cinema can bring change to society. Film is the most powerful medium we have and when combined with music it can be instrumental in changing hearts and minds and inspiring millions of people to live their potential. Seeing another human being’s suffering and how they overcame it gives people hope for their own lives, as well as feeling compassion and empathy. We can learn so much by seeing ourselves in others and learning about different cultures but also seeing our similarities.
-What would you change in the world?
Creating Change The World and inspiring people around the world and touching their hearts is a wonderful gift that I am very grateful for. I have deep compassion for myself and every other woman who has suffered sexual violence and I am honored to use my voice for good and speak for those who can’t. My spirit couldn’t be silenced and to now be heard in countries around the world is something so special to me. When I look back at what I have endured and the miracle of surviving the murder attempt to now winning these special awards is something I could never have imagined would happen! I vowed to make a stand and leave this world a better place than I found it and I am committed. Women are now finding their voice and self-worth and it is fabulous to see. I feel future generations will look back at this point in time with fascination, shock, and dismay and also awe at the courage women have shown by standing up and speaking out about the injustices and violence they have suffered since time immemorial. The social fabric is changing and I’m hopeful the momentum will continue and begin to move more quickly. I see the future in a positive light. I believe change is possible and that we are at the dawn of a new day. As more women are in leadership positions, the world will naturally become a more inclusive one and love will become the focus again. Violence will no longer be a silent global epidemic, all girls will receive an education, and helping others will become our primary goal. We have set the wheels in motion to ensure future generations have a safer and more equal world. My message is one of peace, love and unity and being an example of how to turn tragic into magic is the legacy I am creating.
-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?
The film industry has been changing in recent times and it will continue to evolve over the next one hundred years. With films being shot on smart phones these days and the ability to be uploaded to social media and online streaming platforms the whole landscape for the industry is constantly growing and changing. Technology has given any budding filmmaker the opportunity to produce a film and be able to independently distribute it on the internet. I think the prospects for the industry are super exciting and as technology gets better and new social media platforms are developed, the options are endless. We are watching content on demand and particularly since Covid, the movie theatres are no longer the central place to view new releases. Netflix and other major streaming services are not only building their catalogues but they are creating original content. Hollywood studios no longer have the monopoly on the industry and this competition is helping to create amazing series and films. It’s a very exciting time for filmmakers and actors as there are many more productions being shot each year. In one hundred years from now the industry will be much more inclusive and I’m sure many amazing stories will be told because of it.