Friday, April 9, 2010


Bella is the type of movie I wish more filmmakers would embrace. It is a beautiful story full of life, grace and hope. Bella is a classic example of the power of God at work in film and media. If you are both a Christian and filmmaker, this movie should inspire you to make films that can illustrate how God is at work in the world. Bella accomplishes both goals of revealing God’s glory and truth without being preachy or judgmental. This is an enormous accomplishment, especially for a first-time filmmaker.

Director, Alejándro Gomez Monteverde, illustrates enormous skill in creating a near perfect film. He undoubtedly has a keen sense of how to relate to audiences with material that speaks to the heart. The story is authentic, real and compelling.

The films starts out with one of the most profound and insightful narrations I have ever heard in any film. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Without giving away too much of the basic story elements, Bella tells the stories of José (Eduardo Verástegui), who is a Manhattan chef at an elegant Mexican restaurant and Nina (Tammy Blanchard), who is a waitress facing a difficult crisis. After Nina is fired for being late for work, Jose leaves his job, and they both embark on a journey throughout New York City, which ultimately leads to the home of José’s parents on Long Island.

Nina is forced to make a difficult decision after revealing to Jose that she is pregnant and considering an abortion. Jose has his own past demons to deal with as well. The story structure is told out of sequence so the audience never completely understands what is occurring. But the heart of Bella is about redemption and forgiving ourselves for our past mistakes.

Bella is successful at combining low-budget and independent film concepts and ideas with a strong transformational story arc. The film won the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Bella tackles a very touchy subject of abortion and the sanctity of life. As evident to its victory at Toronto, the film found a balance in speaking to a mainstream audience about a difficult subject. It did it in a fashion that was not preachy but offered an honest view of how God views the importance of life. One of the main reasons why I like the film is because it felt real and genuine in its ability to embrace life in it’s fullest.

Bella has a way of transforming the small moments of everyday existence into divine encounters with God’s grace. Bella is a celebration of the joys of family with all of its complications and difficulties. It reminds us that the importance of love is always the unifying and defining element that binds us together. The ending is especially fulfilling. Most writers would have taken the easy way out and offered up the typical Hollywood romantic ending. But we are left with embracing an ending that offers hope but that doesn’t always tie up every loose end. There is an energy and excitement in this film, thanks in part to the depiction of a culture that we normally do not see in the movies.

Bella reflects the rich culture of the Hispanic community in America. It is a refreshing insight and perspective into the lives of immigrants and their children living as first-generation Americans. The film was shot on location in New York City. The director, Alejándro Gomez Monteverde, was determined to shoot on location because he believed it was essential to the story. The city provided the necessary ambiance to make Bella feel rich with the essence of life. There is no better film that celebrates life so richly as Bella. It is an artistic masterpiece that serves as one of the best examples for Christians who are called to make films as media missionaries.

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