DER Documentary

The Nature of the Beast


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by Ondi Timoner
color, 60 min, 1993




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The Nature of the Beast explores the life and case of a woman, Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, who was subjected to years of abuse, as a child and in three separate marriages. At the age of thirty-eight, Ms Foreshaw was found guilty of first degree murder. She had begun carrying a handgun for self-protection after her third husband, whom she had recently divorced, continued stalking and threatening her in the early months of 1986.

This same handgun was the weapon Ms Forshaw used when, in a moment of panic, she accidentally shot and killed a pregnant woman in an attempt to protect herself from a man who was physically assaulting her at a gas station in Hartford, Connecticut. Both her assailant and victim were complete strangers to Ms Forshaw. although the man later testified in court that he had pulled the pregnant woman in front of him as a shield when he saw Ms Foreshaw take out her hand gun, she was nevertheless found guilty of pre-meditated murder. Ms Foreshaw is now serving the longest prison sentence of any woman in Connecticut—45 years—without the possibility of parole.

“I met Bonnie Foreshaw in the spring of 1994 while directing and producing a documentary on women in prison, Voices From Inside Time, for a senior seminar at Yale University on transgressive women in American society. I was overwhelmed by Ms Forshaw's strength of character and felt compelled to make a documentary about this woman and her dark journey through our criminal justice system...

Over the course of this project, I conducted sixty interviews with the people involved with Bonnie Forshaw's life and case over the years, as well as various legal and psychological experts who were able to provide crucial information regarding some of the issues which my documentary explores. The video focuses on the way in which battered women are treated in our criminal justice system. We structured the documentary so that the interviewees tell the story piece by piece, from their respective points of view. There is no narration by anyone outside the story. Bonnie Forshaw herself provides a poignant and charismatic narrative link through the piece. Bonnie Forshaw's earliest release date is 2018. Her life story brings to light many of the harsh realities that battered women face everyday.” — Filmmaker, Ondi Timoner


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