The movie has been out for two weeks and achieved enormous success for such a humble work of art, with an ever growing fan base. But I wonder, even among the fans, if we truly recognize the God-send that is Bella and the little production company that could, Metanoia Films. Bella is a beautiful and moving picture (yes, I finally saw it) that is literally changing, and saving, people’s lives today. What could be more exciting, however, is the mission taking place behind the scenes. I was graced with the opportunity to meet with Bella filmmakers Alejandro Monteverde and Leo Severino yesterday at a youth event sponsored by the STL St. Vincent de Paul Society.
The mission of these fine gentlemen is to make films that inspire and make a difference in people’s lives, while always remaining faithful to God, and Bella is just the beginning. What does this mean – inspire how? I think the gist of Metanoia’s movie making goals was summed up when Severino promised the students in attendance, “I will never make a movie that reduces your dignity as a human person.” These are men after my own heart and, well, really after the hearts of all. We cannot underestimate media’s influence on our society and in the lives of our young kids especially. Our young men and women are bombarded by sexually charged images in all forms of media, not to mention the dark and often disturbing movies that pass as entertainment and “art” like the recent Saw IV and the upcoming “family” drama, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Such consistent themes and images inevitably desensitize young minds to immorality and the devaluation of human life. What a tremendous impact this little production company could have as they strive to be gentle sheep among the wolves that devour our entertainment industry.
So, how do I like Bella now that I have finally seen the movie? I love it. It is subtle, yet powerful. Jose represents the best of humanity, though he has seen the very worst of humanity – the death of an innocent child. The eyes have it – his character can say a thousand words without ever opening his mouth. I love that.
“Man…cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”
Bella is not just a story about the value of human life, but the value of human love. As I said in my post, Reclaiming the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, creating a culture of life involves not just recognizing the dignity of human life, but realizing our human vocation to love as God loves. This is a selfless, life giving love without boundaries – extending to family, friends, neighbors and even a needy stranger. Love is not just about romance; it’s not merely a feeling or emotion; love is a decision to give oneself as a gift to another and to be open to receiving the gift of another in return. Our young men and women need to see this, if only on film, because far too many grow up without ever knowing this love, from parents, teachers, friends or lovers.
I made the trip to STL with a few home schooled students (one who is now in college – all pictured above) who were more than excited to meet Alejandro and Leo, but were especially looking forward to seeing the film’s star. They were initially won over by him after an inspiring interview on EWTN’s Life on the Rock. Like his Metanoia partners, Eduardo is a beautiful soul and a real man, in love with Christ and passionate about his faith. Unfortunately he was unable to make it to the SVDP youth event, he was tied up in LA, not coming to Missouri until later in the evening, for a separate event in STL where he agreed to meet with the youth afterward. The kids I was with badly wanted to stay, but were unable. So I hung around STL visiting some friends of mine after going to see the movie and was able to catch him in the lobby of the hotel he was speaking at just in time for a quick photo – he was rushing off to Mass, can’t argue with that!
I will be praying for the success of Bella, Metanoia Films and these inspired filmmakers. See the movie if you haven’t already, or invite someone new to join you for a second viewing – especially if you know someone in Nina’s position. So far they know the movie has saved the lives of 5 unborn children, I am told. Thanks be to God! Find a theater near you – new theaters are being added daily.