WASHINGTON, DC – October 18, 2022

Re-Emerging Films is proud to announce that its latest documentary feature film, “Bella!” has been selected as one of two winners of The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film.

The honor is accompanied by a $200,000 finishing grant designed to help filmmakers with films nearing completion.

The winners were announced tonight at a ceremony at The Library of Congress.

”It is one of the most energetic and wonderful films.”

”Being recognized by Ken Burns is an incredible honor. I’ve long admired his work and count him among the artists who have shaped my filmmaking. He’s as inspiring to me as Congresswoman Bella Abzug, whose trailblazing fights for social justice are a crucial and under-told part of our history. With this grant, we are one step closer to completing the film - ensuring Bella’s vision for equality and democracy are not forsaken.”

“Bella!” is the latest film from Director Jeff L. Lieberman (The Amazing Nina Simone, Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria) and re-introduces viewers to the remarkable, under-told story of Congresswoman Bella Abzug (1920-1998) – the frank, no-holds barred activist who transformed from an outside agitator to an influential member of Congress.

Representing New York’s West Village and surrounding neighborhoods, Bella became more than a New York figure, but that of a national symbol of a woman fighting for equality in a largely, white, male boys’ club. One of only 12 women (out of 435 members) to enter Congress in 1971, Bella became even more recognizable by her trademark hat, charismatic wit, Bronx swagger and her ability to reach across the aisle. Through her years in Congress, she passed legislation granting women the right to have credit cards in their own name, introduced curb cuts for the disabled, transformed federal highway dollars into mass transportation funding - all while regularly standing on the Capitol Steps demanding the end of the Vietnam War and calling for Richard Nixon‘s impeachment.

She would go on to become the first woman to run for the Senate from New York, and the first woman to run for mayor of New York City. But most will remember Bella for her collaborative work with several other notable women: Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan. As the leaders of the second wave feminist movement, they shook society into realizing that half of the country’s population was still significantly unrepresented in all matters of life. Decades before Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and AOC, there was Bella.

New Discoveries

Through over 40 interviews with Bella’s family, colleagues, adversaries and admirers, and using never-before-seen archival footage, the filmmakers bring audiences into Bella’s vibrant world. Viewers will be introduced to new details surrounding Bella’s behind-the-scenes role in the defunding of the Vietnam War - ultimately leading to its end. In addition, Bella’s early courting of the “gay vote” (now more commonly known as the LGBTQ vote) in 1970 led to her co-sponsor of the first LGBTQ Rights Bill, a strategic amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Barbra Streisand states in the film: “Bella was way ahead of the curve and the rest of the world had to catch up.”

The film features Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barbra Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, Lily Tomlin, Maxine Waters, Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, Charles Rangel and Gloria Steinem. It is written, directed and produced by Jeff L. Lieberman and produced by Jamila C. Fairley, Tamar Kaissar and Amy Wilensky. Bella! is a production of Harlem-based Re-Emerging Films and is available for distribution in all territories. The film is 102 Minutes.

Photos 1, 2, 4 Courtesy of Katie Dance
Photos 5, 6, 8, 10 Courtesy of Ann-Marie VanTassell
Photos 3, 7, 9 Courtesy of Re-Emerging Films

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