Winning Film Projects 2019

The finalists listed below were selected to receive $8,000 each to fund their film projects. The selection committee believes each of them presents a specific vision for the exploration of truly interesting and dynamic themes. Previews of the three finalists were screened during NIAF’s 44th Anniversary Gala Weekend, on November 1, 2019, and the winner “Ciao, Sesame Street” by John Peter Didato was announced during the Gala Awards Dinner.

John Peter Didato
Ciao Sesame Street
Winner
“Ciao Sesame Street” goes behind the scenes of Sesame Street to profile Italian Americans who have contributed to the success of the most beloved children’s show in television history.
* Ciao Sesame Street is unavailable to view as it is being considered for a film festival.
SandraJean Grasso and Michela M. Smith
Heirloom
First Runner Up
“Heirloom” explores the significance of gardens in the Italian American community, and how they have become part of the cultural identity of Italian Americans.
* Heirloom is unavailable to view as it is being considered for a film festival.
Sim Smiley and Luca Martera
Maximum John
First Runner Up
“Maximum John: The Judge who knocked-out Nixon,” explains the importance of Judge John Sirica’s handling of Watergate, as well as examining the contributions of other prominent Italian American judges and lawyers.

Additional Grant Recipients

Michael Cavalieri
“Ritornato” is a narrative film and tells the emotional story of a man who loses all his loved ones, and sets off on a journey to revisit his past and fulfill a promise made to his dying mother.
* Ritornato is unavailable to view as it is being considered for a film festival.
Giovanni Carnuccio III
“Spaghetti Western” is a documentary illuminates the struggles of preserving our cultural identity in areas of our country where Italian Americans are isolated and alone.
https://vimeo.com/355961415
Mary Davis
“Mamma’s Men,” examines the unique relationship Italian American mothers have with their sons, and demonstrates the importance of the matriarch’s role in the Italian American family.
https://vimeo.com/357267281/cd844969a8
Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno
“Columbus on Trial” is a narrative story of the famed explorer who returns to defend his legacy by educating those who seek to rewrite world history.
* Columbus on Trial is unavailable to view as it is being considered for a film festival.