Celebrating Italian Heritage and Strengthening NIAF’s Presence in Seattle with Screening of Clips from Upcoming PBS Series, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS


Contact: Elissa Ruffino,202-939-3106, elissa@niaf.org


As Seattle prepared for its 27th Annual Festa Italiana, the largest two-day event at the Seattle Center saluting the spirit and values brought to America by Italian immigrants, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) invited local television anchors, producers, reporters  and media professionals to view special film clips from the upcoming documentary series, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS  during the 27th Anniversary Festa Italiana luncheon in conjunction with the NIAF Frank J. Guarini Media Forum on September 23, 2014.

Award-winning writer and producer John Maggio was the keynote speaker. He discussed the film through the deeply moving portrait of Italian American life that includes interviews with Tony Bennett, John Turturro, Gay Talese, Nancy Pelosi and Antonin Scalia, among others. He also spoke about how much of our history has been shaped by the media – and how the story of the Italian American experience has been locked in our families and not often discussed. When interviewing Italian Americans, Maggio found that many control the narrative by trying to keep what he called “La Bella Figura,” (a positive face or angle on the past) and held their real stories deep within their hearts. He said the film is based on many of the family stories he was able to unearth while filming.

The upcoming documentary series, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS, which will air on PBS in February 2015, is narrated by acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci and reveals how Italian immigrants challenged the notion of the American melting pot – choosing instead to maintain their distinct culture and allegiance to family.

NIAF Area Coordinator for the Far West region and President and CEO of ICON INC. in Seattle Gerard V. Centioli along with Julie Francavilla, former morning and noon anchor at KIRO TV (CBS) and media host, welcomed the more than 100 guests at the Seattle Yacht Club.  For seven consecutive years, Centioli, has hosted the journalists as part of the NIAF Frank J. Guarini Media Forums.  The event began with a cocktail reception overlooking Portage Bay with members of the Italian Club of Seattle, their family and friends at the kickoff luncheon.  Thanks to DelGrosso Foods, the oldest major family-owned producer of pasta sauce in the United States, guests received gifts bags of pasta sauce.

Each year Festa Italiana and The Italian Club of Seattle honor an outstanding local Italian American with the annual Gill A. Centioli Memorial Award. This year’s award was presented to Joe Fugere, founder of Tutta Bella.  To learn more about the week-long series of events held during Festa Italiana, visit www.festaseattle.com.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit www.niaf.org.