Angelo Thomas and his ‘Life Worth Living’
Change is hard. Admitting that there’s something you need to change is hard.
So begins a January 2018 Facebook post from Angelo Thomas (Film & Video, 2020) outlining his experience living with — and recovering from — an eating disorder. To a Life Worth Living, his new documentary short released Wednesday, May 2, examines the Louisville native’s struggle with anorexia, which began before his sophomore year of high school and spanned more than four years.
“It’s hard to put into words just how consuming and life-altering a mental illness like anorexia can be,” Thomas said. “Now that I’m on the other side of it, I can see how damaging it was both physically and psychologically and how much it changed me as a person.”
Told from Thomas’ perspective, as well as from those who have been witnesses to his journey, including his twin brother, Andrew; friends; and even some of the professionals he worked with in his recovery, To a Life Worth Living is “intended to serve as an honest and autobiographical look at the experience of living with and recovering from an eating disorder,” Thomas said.
“I want to be a voice and a support for people who have been through or who are going through what I’ve been through. I want to show people that recovery is possible. The message of the film is that everyone can have a ‘life worth living,’ and I hope that’s something that everyone takes away from it, no matter what they’re struggling with,” he said.
Among those helping amplify Thomas’ voice are NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) and ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), which will be promoting his documentary via their social media channels. Thomas and his documentary were recently featured in The Columbus Dispatch, and he is also set to write about his work later this year on the popular Facebook page Mental Health on The Mighty. “It makes me so happy to know that they are interested in supporting the film and in getting it out to people,” he said.
Read more below about Thomas’ experience making To a Life Worth Living, the formative roles CCAD instructors have played in his work, and what the future holds for him. Be sure to head to iamangelothomas.com to watch his documentary in full.
What are some of your previous film projects?
Last semester, I made Felicia DeRosa: Transcendent, a documentary about Felicia DeRosa, a transgender artist and adjunct instructor at CCAD. I was so inspired by Felicia’s story and enjoyed the process of making the film so much that I decided I wanted to pursue making documentaries — something that I never considered before working on that project.
When did you decide to make this? How long of a process was the filmmaking?
I knew when I signed up to take a Documentary Video class that I eventually wanted to make this. I actually talked to my instructor, Visiting Faculty Liz Roberts (my favorite person at CCAD), about my idea for the project, and she sort of shifted her plans for the rest of the semester to make it work. Everything was shot over two weeks, and I’ve spent all my time since then editing and fine-tuning everything.
You’ve called the project your most important and personal one to date. How do you think your personal experience can resonate with other people?
I’ve realized in my recovery that it is absolutely possible to change your own life. That was a huge breakthrough for me. I think that’s something that everyone can take away from the film and from my experience.
Who do you see as the audience for this work?
I definitely want the film to encourage and hopefully inspire people with eating disorders to be open about their struggles and to ask for help, but I think the message of the film is universal and is something that everyone can relate to and apply to their own lives.
Making this film has been very cathartic for me. I’d love to continue to use documentary to tell stories that are important and meaningful to me and that have the potential to make people talk and think about things they may not have otherwise. I’ve been able to work with Liz Roberts for three consecutive semesters now, and working with her has really helped me find my voice and sense of purpose as a filmmaker. I’m so grateful to have been able to work with her, and she’s been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the process of making this film.
Read The Columbus Dispatch feature on Angelo Thomas and To a Life Worth Living here.