The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Announces 2017 Grant Selections


Alex Benedetto
National Italian American Foundation

The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Announces 2017 Grant Selections


(WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 10, 2017) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) are excited to announce the 2017 grant selections for The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, an initiative to fund films depicting and exploring the Italian American experience for the benefit of future generations.

“It has been a thrill to receive such a volume of submissions to this year’s fellowship. Everyone showed extraordinary talent and the competition was extremely close,” said Directors Anthony and Joe Russo. “Ultimately, we were able to make our selection of candidates who show particular promise, and we could not be more excited to work with them.”

The seven applicants listed below have been selected to each receive $7,500 to fund their film project. Each of these recipients present a specific vision for the exploration of, what the selection committee believes, are truly interesting and dynamic themes.

The 2017 recipients (and the subject matter of their respective films) are:

Roberto Angotti, a Film Studies Major at Claremont McKenna, whose documentary film The Italian American Baseball Family will relate how Italian Americans assimilated into popular culture through America’s favorite pastime.

David Joseph Higgins, a high school teacher in Staten Island New York, whose narrative film, presented in Italian, will be based on a children’s book he authored about an unconventional love story.

Kirsten Keppel, a videographer of the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society in Washington D.C., whose documentary film will explore “The St. Joseph’s Day Table” and its significance in Italian and Italian American culture.

Dylan Maccarone, a Documentary Film Major at Hampshire College, whose documentary film will take him to Italy, delving into the conditions that caused a mass migration of Italians to America in the early 1900’s, while questioning whether conditions today could prompt a reverse migration.

Cristoforo Magliozzi, a Master of Fine Arts Candidate in Film Production at the University of Texas in Austin, whose narrative film Beeswax depicts the intricate relationship between an orphan and her grandfather after she breaks a cherished accordion.

Margaret Sclafani, an Anthropology Major at Bryn Mawr College/Haverford College, whose documentary film will examine the relevance of street and religious festivals in Italian American communities through the formation and subsequent demolishment of New York City’s Our Lady of Loreto Church.

Matteo Zengaro, a History and Psychology Major at Delta State University, whose documentary film will hone in on the rich history of Italian Americans in the Mississippi Delta, an area often overlooked when exploring the history of our culture.

Each of the grant recipients will submit their completed film, with three finalists chosen and invited to the NIAF 42nd Anniversary Gala, where the winning film will be announced.

Applicants from across the U.S. and Italy submitted proposals, generating a pool of traditional and contemporary topics explored in both creative and thoughtful ways. As a result, the competition was tight, with several applicants merely inched out due to the limited number of grants available. For this reason, the selection committee encourages individuals whose submissions were not selected to consider reapplying for a grant next year.

For more information on The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, please visit


The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. Based in Washington, D.C., it is the major advocate for nearly 25 million Italian Americans, the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group. To learn more about the Foundation and become a member, please visit


For 87 years, the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) has kept a strong sense of community alive and thriving to become one of the largest and most financially successful Italian American organizations in the country. The ISDA unites Italian Americans across states nationwide to celebrate our culture and preserve the traditions our ancestors brought with them from Italy. To learn more about the ISDA and become a member, please visit