NIAF Hosts Los Angeles Film Screening of PBS’s “The Italian Americans” with Italy’s Consul General in City of the Angels

For Immediate Release

Contact: Elissa Ruffino,

(WASHINGTON, D.C.—JANUARY 27, 2015) To introduce a national film that tells an honest and open story about the Italian American experience to a Los Angeles audience, Marcella Leonetti-Tyler, National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) regional vice president, was joined by Antonio Verde, Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles, and Valeria Rumori, director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, for a preview of the upcoming four-hour PBS documentary series, “THE ITALIAN AMERICANS,” on January 22. The screening was held at the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles in Westwood, and was part of the NIAF/Frank J. Guarini Media Forums.

“Tonight was an evening of Italian American camaraderie in Los Angeles. Our guests were overwhelmed by the film clips from the upcoming documentary and look forward with great anticipation to its February 17 premier,” said Leonetti-Tyler.

“This challenging project showcases the story of immigrants who left their homeland in the latter half of the 19th century and tells the stories of those who stayed in America,” added Verde.

The upcoming PBS documentary will air nationally from February 17 and 24, 2015, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. each evening. Narrated by acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci, “THE ITALIAN AMERICANS” reveals how Italian immigrants challenged the notion of the American melting pot – choosing instead to maintain their distinct culture and allegiance to family.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joseph Buscaino sent field deputy Joseph Campbell to present citations of recognition to NIAF, PBS SoCal, and John Maggio, the award-winning producer and writer of “THE ITALIAN AMERICANS.”

During the screening, the co-hosts were joined by keynote speakers—John Maggio, and the series’ companion book author Maria Laurino. Following the screening, they fielded questions and discussed the state of the Italian American community today; the similarities that existed between the Italian and Jewish immigrant communities; and the need of the Italian American community to know and embrace its history since the community is so diverse in Los Angeles.

“The theme of this film is the strength of the Italian American family,” Maggio said. “I wanted to go across the country to make this documentary a national story.”

Laurino asserted that Italian Americans can continue to blossom in today’s multicultural society. “People, especially as they age, search for characteristics that allow them to stand out, and ethnicity is a very powerful force in identity,” she added.

Throughout the evening guests dined alfresco in the atrium and enjoyed dinner catered by Il Fornaio Ristorante in Beverly Hills. Espresso was served by Matteo Pasquini of Pasquini Espresso, and Frankie’s Old World Biscotti in Palm Springs prepared biscotti with wild fennel for the attendees. The series’ corporate funder, Michael DelGrosso of DelGrosso Foods, provided posters and gift bags of sauce for guests.

For more than 30 years, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), a non-profit, non-partisan organization, has worked to preserve and promote the heritage and culture of Americans of Italian descent, the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group. To learn more, visit