The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Announces 2020 Grant Award Recipients

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) are thrilled to announce the 2020 grant award recipients for The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum. Spearheaded by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, the Film Forum is an initiative to fund films depicting and exploring the Italian American experience for the benefit of future generations.

This year, in light of the pandemic, The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Committee, along with its sponsors, NIAF and ISDA, announced on April 1, 2020, the postponement of the naming of the 2020 grant award recipients due to the health concerns relating to the Coronavirus.

Following the announcement on April 1, the committee decided to proceed with awarding the grants this year, but with a modification to the grant parameters. The timetable governing the use of the grants has been extended this year in order to allow the grant recipients to proceed with the filmmaking process at a time, and in a manner, which is safe for themselves and those they will be working with.

Each of this year’s grant recipients may choose to receive their grant award at any point in time from August 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021. In order to be considered in the competition for the 2020 Best Film Award, the film will need to be completed and submitted within five months of the time the grant is issued to the filmmaker, so each grant recipient should not request their grant until such time as they are safely able to begin the filmmaking process.

Each grant recipient’s overriding consideration should be to use their best judgement in following all the necessary safeguards to provide for a filmmaking environment that ensures the safety and health of their cast and crew.

The committee received nearly 200 applications this year, which made the selection process very difficult. Several exceptional grant requests could not be included for awards due to the limited number of grants available. The committee wholeheartedly thanks all the grant applicants for their willingness to commit so much of their time, effort and creativity to help preserve the Italian American heritage.

The eight applicants listed below have been selected to receive $8,000 each to fund their film projects. These grant recipients present a specific vision for the exploration of what we believe are truly interesting and dynamic themes. We are eager to see each of their films come to life in the coming months.

The 2020 recipients and the subject of their films are:

  • Amy Campione, whose yet untitled narrative film, creates the story of an award-winning chef who struggles to define her identity.
  • Laura Caparrotti, whose film, Tutti in Scena!, documents the history of Italian American theater.
  • Tony De Nonno, whose film, A Century of Laughter, Heart and Song, explores the birth and life of Italian American comedy.
  • Francis DiClemente, whose film, World Series of Bocce, highlights this celebration of Italian American culture.
  • Valarie D’Elia, whose film, Saving Southern Italy, tells the story of Italian Americans going back to their roots to buy and renovate a home in Italy.
  • Alessia Gatti, whose film, The Grucci, focuses on the artistry, innovation and values of America’s world renown family of fireworks.
  • Charles Marsala, whose film, Who killa da Chief?, provides a plausible explanation as to who killed the police chief whose death resulted in the unjust lynching of eleven Italian immigrants in New Orleans in 1891.
  • Charles Messina, whose film, The Wanderer, presents the story of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Dion DiMucci’s struggle to overcome addiction.

The grant recipients will submit their completed films, and three finalists will be invited and have their films screened during NIAF’s 46th Anniversary Gala Weekend, with the winning film announced on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at the Gala Dinner.

The Russo Brothers are grateful to NIAF and the ISDA for their support in this endeavor. Furthermore, they kindly thank all the applicants and finalists for their submissions and look forward to reading more in 2021! For more information on The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, please visit