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A film apart

"A film apart" Continued...

Issue: "Elephant in the room," Nov. 3, 2007

Just as the rent money dried up, the friends met wealthy entrepreneur Sean Wolfington, who was looking for a new project to finance. He consulted friend Steve McEveety-producer of Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ-about backing Bella. "Have you signed anything?" McEveety asked, dismayed at the director's inexperience and tight, 3 1/2-week New York shooting schedule. "[Then] run for the hills." But Wolfington felt drawn in, and after watching the film, McEveety later signed on as an executive producer.

Monteverde was determined to show a new Verástegui to the actor's old fans. He wrote José's taciturn character with a shaggy beard and baggy clothes so Verástegui could not rely on his looks.

Bella's creators hope the film will affect the abortion debate and directly influence women considering abortions. The film has already had an indirect effect on two pregnant women. Researching his role at an L.A. abortion clinic before the shooting, Verástegui persuaded a Latino couple to keep their baby, whom they named Eduardo.

Verástegui also learned that a friend in Florida wanted his girlfriend to abort their child. Seven hours before the procedure, Verástegui talked to him over the phone and offered to adopt the child. He sent the friend a video of an abortion. The couple kept their baby girl-and named her Bella. "I was going to pay $800 to destroy this miracle," her father said.

As Bella the movie makes the theater rounds, its creators marvel at how far they have come. Verástegui hopes this will be the first of many Metanoia films but knows he cannot guarantee its success. "Even if it doesn't happen, what else can you ask for?" he said. "You've got two babies."


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