Set over the course of a single day – Tuesday, December 15, 2009 – during COP15, the United Nations climate negotiations at Copenhagen, The Bella tells the story of a crew of filmmakers in attendance at one of the most controversial global meetings in modern history, attended by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. This day was the last day before the Bella Center, the site of the negotiations, was placed on secure lockdown for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, and the day that protests across the city began to escalate into widespread violence. Inside the Bella Center, conditions were rapidly deteriorating from the high hopes and expectations of the previous days, as delegations fell into disarray, negotiations stalled, and attempts to form a treaty were thrown into limbo.
As the crew struggles to salvage what remains of their film, their efforts prove unexpectedly pivotal, as sensitive information obtained in the course of their work jeopardizes both a fledgling romance one of the filmmakers forms with a negotiator, and ultimately the outcome of the talks themselves. Set entirely within the Bella Center, and deftly intertwining personal narratives of the characters with political narratives of international relations and diplomacy, The Bella chronicles a day in recent history whose story has never been fully told. At turns surreal, comic, and moving, The Bella is at once the story of a day in time, a building in space, a man in love, and a movement that nearly changed the world.
Praise for The Bella
“The Bella is a timely and compelling work; Benjamin Morris uses his eye-witness experience to paint a troubling and often funny portrait of the debacle that was the Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009. No one escapes his unblinking gaze – activists, journalists, politicians and conference junkies all furnish the carnivalesque action, with the narrative slyly suggesting the real drama may be off-stage. Morris’ eye is good and his characters are drawn with humanity and wit; the story is fuelled by a gripping counter-factual intrigue and under-scored by romance. Essential reading for activists and skeptics alike.” –Steve Waters, author of The Contingency Plan (2009)
“Everyone can remember where they were when the Wall came down in November 1989. But what about December 2009, twenty years later? Where were you then? The events that took place that month in the city of Copenhagen – and in particular inside the Bella Conference Centre – may prove in the longer term to be just as important as the ending of the Cold War. Benjamin Morris’ new novella The Bella is the first fictional treatment of these events which saw the end of another particularly modernist hope: that global climate could effectively be governed. By humanising the tragic clash of passionate hope and weary cynicism, Morris captures the drama, emotion, chaos and futility of this most remarkable of human gatherings. One can read The Bella as fiction … but reality is often stranger than fiction and Morris offers us here one way of making sense of COP15, where there were many game-players, but no victors. The Bella is a powerful commentary on the human predicament when faced with proliferating worlds. It will be the first of many re-tellings.” –Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia, author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change (Cambridge UP, 2009)
“Creative, compelling and clever, The Bella takes us through the climate-controlled corridors of the Copenhagen climate talks, where readers get to feel the energy, and passion that flowed through this day of history in the making. Benjamin Morris eloquently relates the dynamism and frantic nature of the gathering, while also relating how the characters bared witness to colliding interests in these intense spaces of hope (and despair).” –Maxwell Boykoff, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder, author of Who Speaks for the Climate? (Cambridge UP, 2011)