Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum awards Charles Marsala Grant

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In July, Charles Geno Marsala, the President of the American Italian Federation of the Southeast and a District National Vice-President the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA), was one of eight chosen for the 2020 Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grants.  

Charles Marsala, sculptor Franco Alessandrini, and Michael Santo of New York who chaired the 2019 Mayor’s Recognition of Italian contributions.

The program was started by Anthony and Joseph Russo who have a cinematic repertoire that reaches from the highest grossing Marvel films to Emmy’s for their prime-time projects.  New Orleanian Anthony Mackie is featured in several of their films including the Captain America series.

As active members of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA), the Russo brothers have partnered with National Italian American Foundation (NAIF) and ISDA to develop The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum.

The Forum provides an incredible opportunity for inspired and creative artists to craft films that explore the Italian American experience.

In 2020 there were nearly 200 applicants. Eight were selected to receive the $8,000.00 grant to produce their proposed film.  Grants are awarded based on the promise of the film’s premise, how it relates to the Italian American experience, and the creative potential of the filmmaker.

Marsala produces “Celebrating Culture” which airs on WLAE-TV Sundays at 9pm. Eighteen episodes have been produced Louisiana culture, Coastal Restoration, Saving Endangered Species, and the work of Non-Profits. Eight episodes have been produced on the Sicilian Migration to New Orleans. 

Several interviews of the show have been embedded into a self-guided tour app: “New Orleans Insider Tours” which has over 400 points of interest regarding Louisiana. Over 60,000 Sicilians landed in the French Quarter during 1884-1920.  Historic Markers are being installed in the area some called: “Little Palermo.”

Marsala, was on the committee that organized the 2019 ceremony with Mayor Cantrell in which she recognized the contributions of Sicilians and Italians to New Orleans and America.  As part of that ceremony, Mayor Cantrell apologized for the 1891 involvement of City Officials in the lynching of acquitted Sicilians for the murder of Police Chief Hennessy.

Marsala’s submittal to The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum is to focus on the involvement of James Houston in the lynching, Houston’s business dealings, and the previous four men Houston killed.

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