Smithsonian Honors Bella Bella receives the Legacy Award from the Smithsonian at a private screening hosted by Jeb & Columba Bush
By Aaron Glickman
The Smithsonian Latino Center honored Bella with the Legacy Award in a private screening hosted by former governor Jeb and his wife Columba Bush at The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. This poignant movie presents a universal story of friendship, family, struggle and triumph in the face of the unexpected. It is a romantic drama that is much deeper than romance. I saw the film at the Miami International Film Festival on opening weekend and it is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Bella has already received numerous honors, including the prestigious “People’s Choice Award” at the Toronto International Film Festival, a distinction that puts it in the company of such Oscar-winning films as Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hotel Rwanda. “Something bigger than any of us expected happened with this film and we could not be more excited,” said financier and producer Sean Wolfington who bet on Monteverde as a first-time director.
Bella was also selected by Edward James Olmos to open the LA Latino International Film Festival. In January of this year, President Bush presented the “American by Choice” award, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Immigration, to director Alejandro Monteverde at the White House. And now, the Smithsonian Latino Center will present its Legacy Award to the acclaimed filmmakers for their contribution to the arts and to the culture at large.
“We admire and applaud Metanoia Films for presenting the Latino immigrant experience in an honest and dignified light and their work’s impact on American culture,” said Pilar O’Leary, the dynamic executive director of the Smithsonian Latino Center.
The screening was followed by a reception hosted by John and Selene Devaney of United Capital Asset Management. Among those attending this high-profile event were Jeb and Columba Bush, the U.S. Chief of Immigration and other important dignitaries and business people. “We’re honored that our small film has garnered so much praise,” said Wolfington. “Who could have ever dreamed that all of this was possible? We are truly blessed.”
Wolfington, with his wife Ana, also hosted a small private dinner on the day following the screening. The meal was prepared by Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef and best selling author, Art Smith. Attendees included Jeb and Columba Bush, famed artist Romero Britto, John and Selene Devaney and the cast of Bella.
Bella is scheduled for release in mid-August and is poised to make a run at the Oscars. Mexican film makers broke a record this year, garnering 17 Oscar nominations for films like Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro) and Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón). Many people hope Bella will follow in the footsteps of last years Mexican Oscar nominees. With all of the praise the film has already received, Oscar dreams may quickly turn to reality.
Bella is a romantic drama that is much deeper than romance. Powerful, passionate and always unpredictable, Bella reminds us of the surprises that await us in each new day and that sometimes it takes no more than a moment to transform our lives forever. Starring Mexican superstar Eduardo Verastegui (Chasing Pap) – who is known as the “Brad Pitt of Latin America” – and Emmy award winning Tammy Blanchard (The Good Shepherd), Bella is a heartwarming story about life, relationships and our capacity for love in the face of the unexpected.
CRITICS LOVE BELLA!
Here is a recent review from a local Miami film critic, Maria Salas of NBC-6 WTVJ:
“Bella is a romantic drama full of heart, soul and beautiful messages. It's a film that will stay with you forever! Powerful, passionate and unpredictable, Bella is a rare gem, a true surprise. A movie that can transform your life and keep you thinking. Bella is a cinematic jewel. One of the best films I've seen in a long time.
Watch out for its extraordinary cast, especially Mexican leading man Eduardo Verastegui (above right), truly the 'Brad Pitt of Latin America'.”