Michelle Bonilla Stars in "Slip Away" at 2011 Outfest
Indie films depicts strong Latina women standing up for themselves by making the right choices and decisions, July 11
Who doesn't love to be out and about in the summer? So many things to do and see but there's one event you must add to your calendar and that's the Los Angeles premier of "Slip Away" from Los Angeles native, Michelle Bonilla, a powerful short film which adeptly tackles the delicate subject of addiction.
Published on LatinoLA: July 6, 2011
Michelle Bonilla has successfully made her acting marks in both mainstream films and television shows; her most recent credits include The Closer, Days of Our Lives, CSI Miami and Saving Grace. She is now extending her craft and for the first time she is Executive Producer and scriptwriter, in addition to starring in, her debut short film, "Slip Away". Bonilla, the first Latina actress to have openly come out, "Slip Away" is a true story between two women.
Hooked, I wanted to know more and on a beautiful day in West Hollywood, an even more beautiful, Michelle, joined me for a cup of coffee and to share why she had to make this film. She begins by sharing that "Slip Away" is based on her own personal life experience of being in an abusive relationship with an addict but quickly adds, "It's not a forum for, 'oh god, another abusive lesbian relationship'. It's not that at all. It's about these choices that these characters make."
Ok, talk about being brave and vulnerable! Most people wouldn't want to admit, let alone openly talk about this subject. "It really had a profound effect on me and the only way I could go through it was to start writing about it." Lost for a moment in thought, she continued, "Some of these incidents were so absurd. They were like these giant scenes. It evolved over the course of six years [and] it started forming like a script. It was a cathartic, therapeutic process."
And with a thoughtful smile she added, "the names have been changed to protect the innocent." Like most people do when recalling a painful memory, Bonilla, paused, took a deep breath then continued, "To see someone choose something else [over you] it doesn't matter if it's between two women, or two men, or between a male and a female these things can happen and no matter how much you love someone they can easily Slip Away."
Interestingly, The Alma-Award winning actress portrays, 'Jane', the character struggling with addiction. When I ask her about her choice to play this role, she tells me, "it would've been too easy playing myself." Staying true to her story, the role of 'Selena' is played by newcomer Latina thespian Lauren Birriel. Michelle emphasized the importance of showing strong women, specifically Latina women, standing up for themselves by making the right choices and decisions.
Let's be clear here, Bonilla's story, while focusing on the same-sex relationship of two main protagonists, Selena and Jane, 'Slip Away' goes beyond the simple obvious "lesbian-themed" stereotypical stigma to offer the universal message of hope and new beginnings. Understanding the importance of giving voice to it and her personal need to express herself, Michelle discloses, "It's a story that needs to be told. There's so much shame involved in it and embarrassment. No one really talks about this subject."
Bonilla created a platform to not only allow actors to play roles different than what Hollywood usually casts them in but also give back on a social/communal level to women. This is why "Slip Away" is involved with "The Los Angeles Women's Theatre Project" (LAWTP), an institution committed to helping women in the arts. This is the LAWTP's first time delving into the film world and is an actual sponsor of the film at the Outfest.
Teaming up with the best of what the LGBT entertainment crop has to offer on and off camera it features a stellar ensemble cast and crew: female Director & Co-Producer, Tina Scorzafava, Cinematographer, Hilda Mercado, and Producer Jenn Garrison. "Slip Away" also proudly features Thea Gill ("Queer As Folk") and April Grace (ABC "Lost"). Bonilla didn't leave out the boys and called upon her gentlemen friends Wilson Cruz ("My So-Called Life", "He Just Not That Into You") and Hal Sparks ("Queer As Folk"). On getting such an incredibly talented and giving crew, Bonilla jokes, "the stars aligned and the moon was full". Then with gratitude in her voice, she explains that it truly was an honor to have been able to work with such talented and amazing people.
Making the rounds on the festival circuit, "Slip Away" has been gaining critical acclaim garnering the 'Best Narrative Short' at the Q Cinema Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival in Fort Worth, TX . We talk about the amount of work involved getting into festivals ÔÇô the deadlines, the paperwork. Tedious yes, but for Michelle, "The best part about going to these festivals is to see the people's reactions and to see them enraptured--I just love that. It is the best gift."
And now the award-winning short will be screening here in Los Angeles on July 11th, 2011 @7PM at The Directors Guild of America. Screening Room 1 as part of the program called "Chick Habit" at this year's 2011 Outfest, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing, showcasing and protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).
For Michelle, it is a tremendous privilege to be premiering here in Los Angeles. "This is my hometown - I want everybody to see it", a very excited Bonilla exclaims.
Come show your support and don't miss this incredibly powerful film.
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And for tickets and more information about Outfest, please visit www.outfest.org
Kali Londo??o, is a Producer and freelance writer who now lives in LA.She has interviewed the likes of Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and more. She excels at the interview and writing process.