On January 28, NYWIFT members and supporters gathered for our monthly member screening at the Anthology Film Archives. This month’s feature was Sister Italy, a heartfelt cultural comedy.
As an aspiring filmmaker, I admire creators — those who defy expectations to represent new ideas and innovate storytelling. Sister Italy boldly met that admiration.
Directed by Angelo Bonsignore, the film is the vision of Angela Rago, who wrote the script and plays one of the lead characters. I caught up with Rago after the film to speak more on the project’s fruition and its significance to her community. Rago refers to the characters as “dying,” and sought to immortalize several generations with humorous writing and realistic characters.
I decided to write a play for the Italian community when I was 20 years old. They couldn’t believe a woman was writing a play – putting a theater company together. [The Italian community] needed enforcement and a place to go. And when it became a big success I said, [laughs] ‘You see what a woman can do?’
People would identify themselves in the play. People were taking their mothers…farmers that had never been to a theater saw a portrayal of their life. My mother used to say, ‘Life is a battle’. If you stop, you are lost. You have to go on no matter what happens. If you want to do something, don’t let anyone stop you. I knew I had an audience. A writer is an audience too.
The film’s close-knit team undoubtedly replicated this at our program; audience members rolled with laughter and noted the film’s relateable content in a post-film Q&A session. Sister Italy empowers the Italian-American identity through unapologetic visibility.
— SONTENISH MYERS
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