Film Forum

The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grant

The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grant provides an incredible opportunity for inspired and creative artists to craft films that explore the Italian American experience. In conjunction with the Italian Sons and Daughters of America and the National Italian American Foundation, the former of which the brothers are lifelong members, Joe and Anthony invite you to explore the present, past, and future of this unique and important cultural expression and identity.


Watch films from previous grant recipients below.



A select number of applicants will be awarded a $8,000 grant that serves as a production budget for the story they’d like to develop and create for the screen. Documentary, narrative, fiction, and nonfiction are all acceptable formats. There are few rules to the content of your film, only that it illuminates some aspect of the Italian American experience.

These grants are open to people of all nationalities and backgrounds, as the Italian American culture has touched so many of us in profound and resonant ways. Grants will be awarded based solely on the promise of a film’s premise, how it relates to the Italian American experience, and the creative potential of the filmmakers.

The timeline below highlights all of the key dates to be aware of throughout the program’s entirety. If you’re selected for our grant, your acceptance means an obligation to deliver a film within the bounds of what you outline in the following application pages and by the due date listed below. Failure to complete a film by the final due date or delivery of a film unrelated or outside its immediate description written within the application will result in a full revocation of funds and complete disqualification.

NIAF and ISDA will display the films on their respective websites and reserve the right to screen the films at NIAF and ISDA events and/or not for profit events.

We couldn’t be more excited to offer a platform for voices worldwide to tell original Italian American stories.



January 13, 2020: Application opens


March 1, 2020, 11:59 p.m. PT: Deadline for submission


April 1, 2020: All applicants notified


September 1, 2020, 11:59 p.m. PT: Deadline for submission of films


October 1, 2020: All applicants who submitted films notified. Three finalists chosen and invited to NIAF Gala


October 31, 2020: Announcement of winning film at the NIAF Gala


For questions, please contact NIAF Director of Programs, Gabriella Mileti at

2018 Grant Recipients

Best Film Award Co-winner

Il Signor Jackson, by Anton Evangelista

Il Signor Jackson chronicles the life and contributions of a remarkable African American with an Italian spirit.


Return to Lucania, by Jeannine Guilyard

Return to Lucania tells the story of the early 20th century Italian immigrants, the conditions they fled, and what the land they left has become today.

Honorable Mention

In The Mood In Our Own Way, by Luca Martera

In the Mood in Our Own Way explores the history and influence that Italians and Italian Americans have had on music in the U.S. for the past 200 years.

2018 Grant Film Submission

Cannoli, Traditions Around the Table, by Andrea Cordaro

Cannoli, Traditions Around the Table focuses on food as a connector between ourselves and our ancestors, specifically through the history, spiritual significance, and evolution of the cannoli.

2018 Grant Film Submission

Speaking Sicilianu, by Nina Ignaczak

Speaking Sicilianu relays the predicament of Sicilians and Sicilian Americans who find themselves in a changing world, struggling to reconcile their rich ethnic history with their current reality of assimilation.

2018 Grant Film Submission

Raising the Bar, by Laura Magone

Raising the Bar tells the quintessential Italian-American success story of two brothers born to immigrant parents who could not read or write, but who still managed to teach the life lessons that would help their sons excel and eventually make extraordinary contributions to our country.

2017 Grant Recipients


The Italian American Baseball Family

Roberto Angotti, a Film Studies Major at Claremont McKenna, whose documentary film The Italian American Baseball Family will relate how Italian Americans assimilated into popular culture through America’s favorite pastime.

Runner Up

Ringraziamenti: The Saint Joseph’s Day Table Tradition

Kirsten Keppel, a videographer of the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society in Washington D.C., whose documentary film will explore “The St. Joseph’s Day Table” and its significance in Italian and Italian American culture.

Runner Up

Saints of Little Italy

Margaret Sclafani, an Anthropology Major at Bryn Mawr College/Haverford College, whose documentary film will examine the relevance of street and religious festivals in Italian American communities through the formation and subsequent demolishment of New York City’s Our Lady of Loreto Church.

Additional Grant Recipient

I Sopravvissuti: The Survivors, Italian Americans in the Mississippi Delta

Matteo Zengaro, a History and Psychology Major at Delta State University, whose documentary film will hone in on the rich history of Italian Americans in the Mississippi Delta, an area often overlooked when exploring the history of our culture.

Additional Grant Recipient

Italo Americani (2017)

Dylan Maccarone, a Documentary Film Major at Hampshire College, whose documentary film will take him to Italy, delving into the conditions that caused a mass migration of Italians to America in the early 1900’s, while questioning whether conditions today could prompt a reverse migration.