by Liz Townsend
October 20, 2007
LifeNews.com Note: Liz Townsend writes for the National Right to Life Committee and her articles frequently appear in its newsletter publication, NRL News.
Pro-lifers can go to the movie theater this fall and see a miracle: a film that embraces the sanctity of human life. Bella, winner of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival’s “People’s Choice Award,” opens October 26 in 31 markets nationwide.
Bella was a labor of love for everyone involved in its production, and that love is spreading to every audience. It is the story of a Mexican soccer star, Jose’ (played by Eduardo Verastegui), who endures tragedy and later works quietly as a chef in a New York restaurant. There he meets Nina (Emmy Award-winning actress Tammy Blanchard), a waitress who is fired just as she learns she is pregnant and is considering abortion.
“In one irreversible moment, a simple act of kindness brings them together and turns an ordinary day into an unforgettable experience,” according to the film’s production notes. “Before the day is through, José must confront his own haunting past to show Nina how the healing power of love can help her embrace the future. Inspired by true events, Bella is a heartwarming story about friendship, family and our capacity for love in the face of the unexpected.”
A graduate of the University of Texas film school, director Alejandro G. Monteverde conceived the story as he drove from Austin to Los Angeles, where he began the Metanoia Films production company with his friend Verástegui and business partner Leo Severino.
“As I was driving, I started to daydream and the story came to me all at once, pieced together from three different real-life experiences that had happened to close friends of mine,” said Monteverde. “Their stories just came together as one. By the end I was crying.”
Metanoia Films is dedicated to making “movies that matter and have the potential to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” according to Hollywood Reporter. The company teamed with financiers Sean and Eustace Wolfington to produce Bella, filmed in New York City in a quick 24-day shoot.
After the film won the award at the Toronto Film Festival, it took a while for a distribution company to arrange for its theatrical release. In the meantime, it won a Latino Legacy Award from the Smithsonian Institution, and the White House honored Monteverde with an American by Choice Award.
In August 2007, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions bought Bella’s U.S. rights and scheduled its release for October 26.
“The film is a crowd-pleaser about humanity, family, friendship and the magic of New York City,” said Eric d’Arbeloff of Roadside, according to the Toronto Star. “We hope it finds the same success as previous Toronto People’s Choice Award winners like Life Is Beautiful, Whale Rider, Hotel Rwanda, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and American Beauty.”
The producers have also begun a grassroots campaign “targeting leaders of Latino, adoption, and faith-based organizations with free screenings, where they’re encouraged to help promote the film or ‘adopt’ (prebook) a theater for members of their community,” according to the Reporter.
Former NRLC staffer Dale Noble is assisting Metanoia in its outreach to pro-life and pro-family groups.
“It’s the story about a crisis pregnancy,” Noble told NRL News. “How a woman who finds herself pregnant is determined not to have the baby. But a man gives her the help, care, and concern that she needs.”
The movie is also a major step in the moral conversion of Verástegui. Known in Mexico as a member of the pop group Kairo and star of telenovelas (soap operas), he moved to Los Angeles to continue his career in America.
But he soon had an epiphany: “I realized that instead of using my talents to serve and to contribute to this world, so we can make this world a better world, I was poisoning our society by the projects that I was involved,” he said in “Eduardo’s Story,” a feature on the web site https://www.bellaliferesources.com. He decided to commit only to meaningful projects that would make a difference.
Armed with a new mission, he began researching his role in Bella by observing the activity at an abortion clinic. In shock at all of the young teenagers arriving for abortions, he stood near pro-lifers trying to minister to the women. Asked to translate for a young couple who only spoke Spanish, he ended up talking with them for 45 minutes. They did not enter the abortion mill.
Months later, after filming Bella, he received a call.
“Eduardo, this is Javier,” said the young father he met that day, as Verástegui described in “Eduardo’s Story.” “I have great news. My boy was born yesterday. I want to ask your permission because I would love to call him Eduardo.”
Visibly moved as he told the story, Verástegui said this experience was the “most noble thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was beautiful. … By the grace of God I was able to save this baby.”
This spirit of mission and of love is evident in every frame of Bella, and was present throughout the process.
“Looking back, I can say that this production was blessed,” said production manager Denise Pinckley. “I tried to anticipate the many obstacles that can get in your way, from weather problems to shooting in the crowded streets, but everything went incredibly smoothly.”
While the film will be in limited release beginning October 26, a successful initial run could bring it to a wider audience. Watch your movie theater listings, and don’t miss Bella.
For more information, visit https://www.bellathemovie.com.