Brooklyn 1963. Luca Gravetti(80) is losing his battle with dementia, and Buono (43), a masterful casket maker butfull-blown illiterate, must juggle both the family’s ailing funeral home and his dear father. When the IRS comes knocking and the bank repossesses the hearse, Buono gives inand reluctantly looks uphis estranged brother, Michael—with all the smarts of a Wall Street whiz kidbut plagued by booze and racist dogma. The two immediately clash over how best to run the business—by Buono’s traditional ways, or with Michael’s modern-day vanity of profits above all. Meanwhile, an infamous event triggers one last memory in Luca, setting him off on a journey of love and redemption.Tuscany 1928. Buono (9) reminisces about his whimsical childhood,and his family’s last days before immigrating to America. Luca (45), a lowlystore clerk,has one last chance to finally gain the respect of Leo, his hard-nosed capitalist father,by rebuilding a chapel for the impoverished peasants, but when a scheming bishop demands even more, a local strong-arm is rebuffed. Luca disregards his father’s dire warnings, seduced by the praise of the villagers and ignoring the ominous powers heading their way. This culminates in one of the most traumatic experiences Buono can remember as a child, a life-changing event that makes him and his family an even greater target for revenge and catapultshim to manhood well beyond his grasp.
At first, Face Painters, originally coined “Immigrants” circa 2004, was a notebook of recollections gathered from my parents in my attempt at an immigrant journey-type stage play. My siblings and loved the stage; the stage was in ourfamily’s lineage, our parents at one time being opera singers and practitioners of the bel canto era. And as Italian immigrants themselves, “la mia mamma di Firenze,e il mio babbo di Salerno,” had first hand experience of an Italian immigrant and their much-desired American dream. Their stories always had the same collective theme; the destitute in search of a better life, but my mom—beaten down with her ownhard-earnedwisdom—would pointedly add that not everyone pursuing the American dream got what they had hoped for. Sadly, for some, what little life they had before stepping on that transatlantic steamship would in fact have proven the betterlife. And as the years in America struggled on for these fallen dreamers, there would never be a wayfor them to just magically decidetheirjourneyan actualdream, an actual bad dream,and finally rid themselves a life of torturous denial. No, too much hard reality had already passed, what’s done wasdone, and with ashrinking sense of sanity, these unfortunate immigrants struggled through decades of space and time, continuing to diminishin regret until their last breathing moment.I found this hidden insight very intriguing, as ifI was let in on a little secret, a sort of spin on the presumptiont hat just because a family packed their bags and headed forthe New World, this journey for the American dream would, in all cases, lead to a better future. Now, this was a themefor a great story, my take on the American dream and the irony of leaving behind what was truly a better life;even if poor in your pocketsbut still rich in soul and conscience, how this great life would be thrown away because of greed, or a desperateness, or simple stupidity over having to blindly leave. And evenmore, instead of a slew of error stragically disrupting peace and a prosperous future, how one mistake, how simply just one wrong decision could bring one’s self and an entirefamily’s world to bitter pieces.This was the geneses of my story, of one’sAmerican Dream, a man by the name of Luca, and his one dire decision, his one finite decision to sadly do something he alonec hose to do, and the trajectory his entire family suffered because of this. And for one, his elder son, Buono, how he would struggle through the decades until almost a century later, until finally acceptinghis father’s past and what that did to him and, in victory, finally achieving the dream his father ultimately soughtand failed to do himself—achieving the great American dream…This is Face Painters.
A native of Long Island, NY and primarily a carpenterhis entire life, Giovanni Sanseviero has also been a multi-award-winning actor, having first begun his NY training with the Gene Frankel Theatre, followed by the Lee Strasberg Theatre in Los Angeles. His relentless desire in having to act first caught the eyes of New York Times writer, Bernard Stamler: while walking his dog in SOHO, Bernard caught a glimpse of Giovanni living out of his “house-on-wheels,” a custom, hand-built RV that Giovanni designed and built to take on the road to literally live in front of the theatres and on the many movie productions he found himself cast in. Dodging big-city rent and wanting to be
as close as possible to this thespian world, Giovanni remarked, “I really can’t get any closer than this!” tinyurl.com/3aaz967t
After discovering an abandoned building in NYC, Giovanni was inspired to write, produce, design, and star in “The Empty Building,” a forty-two minute 16mm featurette about a mystical building people found themselves at in order to find closure to past traumatic events. Empty Building received critical acclaim in over sixty film festivals and numerous universities and private venues throughout the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Australia while also receiving over
thirty production and acting awards throughout its run and— mamma mia, many parking tickets! imdb.com/title/tt0402991 tinyurl.com/2ar4t8mz
Giovanni has since returned to a life of construction work. However, unwilling to completely leave behind his love for the arts, he wrote his first feature screenplay titled, “Face Painters,” one boy’s search for the American dream and the lifetime it took to achieve. This duel narrative multi-generational saga has been doing fine with the world-wide festival circuit; as of June ‘21 garnering 116 writing competition entries and just surpassing fifty award recognitions in essentially every screenplay category possible.