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Award Winning Movie Trumps Romance With True Love
By Huda Metti :: Monday, October 29, 2007 :: 66655 Views :: Sports, Art, and Entertainment, Opinion and Editorials

Chaldeans say they can relate to the movie Bella (www.bellathemovie.com) that opened this week. 

The weekend box office smash sends another cold chill down the spine of Hollywood who snubbed the film for its contrary and heart wrenching message that love comes from sacrifice and not romance. 

The movie critics say Bella has what America’s been asking for but what Hollywood refuses to give.

Having won the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, you’d think major Hollywood distribution companies would be crawling over one another for a crack at the film. But such is not the case. Bella’s central theme puts a premium on the value of human life — including life in the womb — and that is a value Hollywood just won’t tolerate.

For Arvin Ashaki and his
fiancé Amber Kannani the movie rated tops.

“Soccer, hard-work, family, and having to make hard decisions – come-on that is a Chaldean’s life.  I loved this film and would tell everyone to go see it.  If you are married or plan to get married one day you got to see this movie,” says Arvin Ashaki. “Me and my girl needed a break from all the worry over the fires and stuff so we went to see a movie.  It is sad that Hollywood won’t show it in more theaters; we had to drive about an hour to a place we never went to before.  It was a very nice theatre and we enjoyed the car drive and dinner afterwards.  Hollywood is just shooting themselves in the foot teaching people that Movie theaters no longer matter.” 

Ashaki’s fiancé, Amber Kannani, a business graduate of San Diego State says, “Don’t believe Hollywood when they say their decisions are based on business.  It is not.  They tried to ignore The Passion of the Christ and are now ignoring Bella. They don’t like the movie’s message that simple.  I wish everyone calls their local theaters and demands the movie be showed.”

"Bella" was a surprise winner of the People's Choice Award, voted on by audiences at the Toronto film festival.  The independent film staring Mexican superstar Eduardo Verástegui, is scheduled for limited release in theatres this week. The movie, an inspirational drama set in modern-day New York. 



But the folks at Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Entertainment, knew a good thing when they saw it and scooped up this moral masterpiece. Bella’s creators are hoping to reach as many people as possible with the film’s principal message: “True love goes beyond romance.”

In Bella, Eduardo Verástegui stars as José, a once-famous professional soccer player who finds himself working as a cook in his brother’s New York City restaurant following a tragic, career-ending accident that leaves him broke, haunted and utterly discontent.

But José soon learns that God can turn all things for good. Nina, a single waitress played by Tammy Blanchard is also down on her luck. She confides in José that she’s discovered she’s pregnant. As she is confronted with the choice between life and death for her little one, José is able to tap his own turbulent life experiences to offer Nina the wise counsel she so desperately needs.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) President Wendy Wright attended an advanced screening of the film. “Most movies follow a predictable story line,” said Wright. “Bella, like real life, surprises you with a subtle yet profound story of exceptional grace.”

And exceptional grace has also been one of the film’s many positive byproducts. Co-writer and co-producer Leo Severino shared with CWA that he’s aware of at least two instances where babies are alive today because of Bella’s message of truth and love. In fact, by God’s grace, the world has now been blessed with a real life Bella — a little girl named for the film — whose life was spared only hours before she was scheduled to die at the hands of an abortionist.

Yes, it’s no wonder the Hollywood left wouldn’t give Bell a the time of day. The movie’s timeless message is one they urgently wish to chill. It’s a message not altogether unlike The Passion of the Christ, a message which reminds us all that the selfless sacrifice of one can mean the precious gift of life for another.

Bella'' was conceived by three young conservative Catholic Mexican men -- producer, director and lead actor -- who want to make movies removed from Hollywood's culture of sex and violence. Bankrolled by a Catholic Philadelphia family, they shot the film in 24 days in New York City.

The star is Eduardo Verastegui, a Mexican heartthrob as a performer in TV soap operas who now lives in Los Angeles. A devout Catholic, was tired of movies showing Latinos as disreputable and immoral so he decided to make a difference and take action. He has learned to speak English in three years well enough to play the lead role mostly in English (with subtitles over the Spanish).




St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.