BELLA! – Documentary Review

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Bella! And, yes, be sure to include the exclamation point in the film’s title because the subject of Jeff L. Leiberman’s well researched and beautifully crafted documentary deserves emphatic punctuation.  Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was a champion of civil rights for women in every aspect of our lives. She was the feminist activist politician who fought fiercely to enact laws to establish and protect equity in the workplace, in government representation, in family matters — all of the women’s civil rights that we are now at such high risk of losing in our nation’s current regressive climate.

If you ever picked up a placard and marched for women’s rights, or burned a bra, or donated to women’s civil rights organization or action group, or protested the Vietnam War or racial profiling and police brutality, you know ‘Battling Bella’ as a leader whose rousing speeches could charm, challenge and effectively harangue. You know her big voice, her signature style in hats, her great sense of humor and everything else about her very feminist public profile. And you know how effective she was in affecting change — not only in addressing issues pertaining to women’s rights, but also to civil rights for people of color, the LGBTIQA+ community and all citizens.

Mrs. Abzug also had a private life and the documentary reveals her softer side as wife, mother, homemaker and devoted friend. There’s a lot of archival footage that shows a side of Bella that not everyone knew. And the documentary presents on camera interviews with many famous feminists who were Bella’s close friends and cohorts. Barbra Streisand, Hilary Clinton, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, Marlo Thomas, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley MacLaine and others pay tribute to Bella with praiseful comments and superbly entertaining and insightful stories about her.

Bella! will remind you of Abzug’s impact and will inform younger generations about the advances she made in gaining opportunities for them and in the bettering their lives. And, you will find that the film’s release is particularly timely. Bella! is a must see film — and that recommendation deserves and exclamation point, too.

Title: Bella!
Directors: Jeff L. Leiberman
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Running Time: 102 minutes
Language: English
Screenwriters: Documentary Jeff L. Leiberman,
Distribution Company: Re-Emerging Films

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