MANATEE -- Kim Donatelle was nearly stabbed to death by her ex-husband in Sarasota in 1989, an explosion of his violence that did claim the life of her roommate.
About eight months ago, Donatelle was interviewed about the crime that caused her long, painful recovery and landed her ex in prison for life. Her story was made into the film documentary, "A Way Out," which will have its world premiere at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
"A Way Out" was made by Manatee Educational TV and BTN Films, the partnership that also produced the films "Through the Tunnel" and "The Enduring Beauty of Memory." It is being shown in concert with the Sarasota Film Festival.
"The unique thing about this documentary is that it is intensely personal," said Charles Clapsaddle of METV, who collaborated with judges Durand Adams and Charles Williams of BTN Films. "It takes a real in-depth look at the facts of domestic violence, from social services, the legal system and the victim. The story has so many facets to try to understand."
"A Way Out," which is making its debut during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, explores how women get out of dangerously abusive relationships, Clapsaddle said.
"It draws upon the portrait of a woman who traveled a path, which took her from nearly being killed by her ex-husband in a brutal attack, through escape, recovery, redemption and heroism," Clapsaddle added. "That woman, Kim Donatelle, recounts the details of the day on which she nearly died and describes how her best friend did die when she tried to come to Kim's aid."
In the film, Donatelle talks about having to go through the difficult criminal trial and putting together the pieces of her life, finally becoming an inspirational force in the fight against domestic violence.
Through the voice of Laurel Lynch, the head of Bradenton's HOPE Family Services, who appears in the documentary, viewers also get an inside look at what is available to women who leave their abuser.
Besides Donatelle, a group of other women touched by domestic violence also share their stories in the film.
"I thought it was an amazing documentary," said Lynch, who knows all the women in the film. "I've been doing this for 29 years, and when I started it was very difficult to get help. Now, law enforcement, the state attorney, we are all working together to offer people a way out."
The premiere will feature a red-carpet reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., screening at 8 p.m., then a concert by local star Sam Woolf and other singer/songwriters from the Del Couch Music Foundation, including Taylor Zebracki, Brooke Bonderer and Andy Pursell.
Tickets are $25 for screening only and $75 for reception and screening. The box office, at 941-748-5875, opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and tickets remain, according to box office personnel.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.