4th Annual Italian Film Festival!
Branches and Roots, or Rami e Radici [Flyer here!]
The Fourth Annual Las Positas Italian Film Festival will celebrate National Italian American Heritage Month by featuring four documentaries that explore the Italian-American experience. Branches and Roots, or Rami e Radici in Italian, will take place at Las Positas College on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13, starting at 6:30 on both evenings.
More than 25 million Americans claim Italian descent, making them the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States, and every year the month of October is a moment to reflect on and celebrate the many achievements of this remarkable group. The documentaries in this year's Festival will spotlight one of the most enduring qualities so often associated with Italians and Italian-Americans: their sense of family over time and across continents.
This year's lineup of documentaries features a film about Jewish Italians (The Tree of Life), a San Francisco nightclub owner (19 Arrests, No Convictions), Italian war brides from Trieste, in the northeastern corner of Italy (Le ragazze di Trieste), and the attempt of a southern Italian family to reconnect with their long-lost family in Kansas (My American Family).
In the 2008 documentary The Tree of Life, to be screened on Friday evening, director Hava Volterra of Los Angeles tries to come to terms with her father's death by traveling to Italy, the land of his birth, to trace the roots of his family tree. With the help of her feisty 82-year-old aunt, her father's sister, Volterra travels from city to city, digging through ancient manuscripts and interviewing a wide range of scholars, to piece together the story of her Italian Jewish ancestors. Using both Monty Python-style animation and computer enhanced marionettes, the film tells the story of Jewish money lenders, mystics, scientists and politicians, while reflecting on how our parents and their roots affect our sense of identity and belonging.
Also on Friday, 19 Arrests, No Convictions is a 2007 documentary portrait of George Farnsworth, an Italian-American bar owner with a fishy nightlife who redeems himself as a San Francisco Bay open-water swimmer. Farnsworth died in 1996, but retains his record as the oldest man to participate in the annual New Year's Day Swim from Alcatraz. Director Judy Irving filmed George over the course of eight years.
On Saturday, Le Ragazze di Trieste is a 2008 documentary directed by Chiara Barbo and Andrea Magnani. In the years following World War II, the city of Trieste was under the control of the Anglo-American Allied Military Government as both the Italian and Yugoslavian governments claimed the Trieste province. Over 1,300 Triestine young women became "war brides", marrying U.S. soldiers and immigrating to various parts of the country. Le Ragazze di Trieste features interviews with seven of these women, who settled in New York, Florida, California, Michigan, and Virginia. They share memories of Trieste during the war and of their experiences as recently arrived immigrants to the United States.
My American Family (2004), directed by Jerzy Sladkowski, looks at the Merenda family, some of whom emigrated to the United States from Paterno Calabro (Cosenza Province), Calabria in the early twentieth century. Over the decades, the growing family's ties to their homeland deteriorated. In 2002, in an effort to restore the broken link, seventy-year-old Gaetano Merenda, his wife Adriana, and their son Antonio decided to fly from Italy to Kansas to attend a family reunion. During the trip, they hope to answer questions surrounding Francesco Piruneö Merenda, the black sheep of the family, and one of the first to emigrate to America, but whose activities there remain cloaked in mystery. In My American Family, their exploration into family history leads to revelationsùof both a historical and personal natureù that none of them expected.
The Las Positas Italian Film Festival is free admission, although a college parking fee of $2 is enforced.
Films are screened in Room 2420 (Large Lecture Hall), and the films begin after a brief reception on each evening.
The event is sponsored by the Foreign Language and History Departments of Las Positas College
and the Western Regional Chapter of the Italian American Studies Association.
For more information, contact Catherine Suarez at (925) 424-1212 or
Dates: Friday, October 12, 2012, AND Saturday, October 13, 2012
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Room 2420, Large Lecture Hall
Las Positas College, Livermore, CA
Parking Permit or $2 from the parking machine.