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Bella! (2023)

-Written by Kyle Bain

Bella Abzug was the trailblazer that set the stage for all of the women that stand before us in politics today. The reality is that, without Bella, there is a good chance that many women would not have been afforded the same opportunities–and Bella! explores what it was that the titular individual did not just for women, but the world. 

No agenda (for the most part–the film does begin to stray around the thirty-minute mark for a short bit). No ostracization of groups. Nothing but pure facts. Writer-Director Jeff L. Lieberman does all that he can to ensure that Bella! has the potential to appeal to the masses. He brings on activists, authors, actors, and more from all parts of the political spectrum, and even the ones that once struggled to appreciate Abzug and her groundbreaking journey seem to have found a way to understand and accept how important she was to the history of this country.  By avoiding these things that might divide viewers, he really does a stellar job of ensuring that he will retain the largest possible audience. 

Again, Lieberman does a wonderful job of ensuring that Bella! doesn’t become too aggressive, and this is a politically-driven film. Being able to curb the aggression that could have been claimed on the part of opposing viewers must have been challenging–yet Lieberman achieves this. He’s tactful in his approach, manipulating the content of the film in a way that allows it to remain even keeled. As you can tell, Lieberman is the key to Bella!’s success. With characters such as Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton present in the film, it’s sure to ruffle some feathers, and Lieberman, beyond his obvious titles, must play damage control as well. He’s incredibly successful in his ventures, as even I, someone who typically becomes frustrated with political films (both narrative and documentary), appreciated all that these figures had to say. 

This is an hour-and-forty minute political documentary, something that has the potential to get boring if not paced exactly right. Again, Lieberman shines brightly when it comes to ensuring that his audience is comfortable. I was compelled to follow along throughout the course of Bella!, as nearly every moment of the film was bursting with enticing content. 

I am one of those people, for better or for worse, that doesn’t subscribe to the idea that celebrating black history through the month of February and women’s history through March is necessary or effective. How are we to confine the full scope of a people’s history to one month? With that said, however, there are masses of individuals that subscribe to these celebrations, and Bella! is here at just the right time to make a splash. Bella! will ruffle some feathers (I don’t think there’s any way to fully avoid this in a politically-driven film), but, again, Lieberman is just reserved enough to keep the film barreling forward, never being too aggressive. Bella! is entertaining, but beyond that, it’s informative in the best ways. 

Written & Directed by Jeff L. Lieberman. 

Starring Bella Abzug, Eve Abzug, Liz Abzug, Michael Abzug, Ken Birnbaum, M. Robert Carr, etc. 



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