Italianamerican (1974)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Social History, Interpersonal Relationships, Race & Ethnicity, Film & Television History  |   Run Time - 45 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Originally funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Bicentennial series "Storm of Strangers," Martin Scorsese's documentary Italianamerican became not only a personal journey through the Italian immigrant experience, but also an illuminating portrait of the artist's roots. Shot in the Little Italy apartment where Scorsese grew up and "starring" the director's engaging parents Catherine and Charles, Italianamerican showcases the Scorseses' gift for frank, humorous storytelling as they recount their early 20th century youth, dexterously augmented by archive clips and family photo montages. As their reminiscences unfold over the course of an evening, it becomes quite apparent how their son learned to spin emotionally true tales; Scorsese's attention to minute, expressive details is even analogous to his mother's technique for making pasta sauce and meatballs (the recipe received a standing ovation at the New York Film Festival). Once described by Scorsese as the best film he ever made for the way it "freed" him stylistically for his later work, Italianamerican is also a vital nonfiction counterpart to his breakthrough classic Mean Streets (1973).