Jefferson Park-based filmmaker Giancarlo Iannotta (right) with Antonio Palumbo, who plays his long-lost older brother Francesco.
CHICAGO — Far from the skyscrapers and tightly-packed production companies of Downtown, the city’s Dunning neighborhood seemed to upstart filmmaker Giancarlo Iannotta like the perfect location for the opening of his first feature-length movie.
But it didn’t come without challenges.
“We kept having to pause because of a plane flying right over our heads every three minutes,” Iannotta laughed. “I think the sound guy was ready to kill us.”
Iannotta has used the Northwest Side as his canvas for short films and commercials, and he teamed with his uncle to launch Molise Films in Jefferson Park last year.
But in his new project, titled “My Country,” the writer-director-star sings Chicago’s praises through the Italian countryside.
The semi-autobiographical story starts in Dunning, where Iannotta’s character, Lucky, lives with his ailing immigrant father, Vincenzo. On his deathbed, Vincenzo reveals that Lucky has a long lost older brother, still living in Rome.
Lucky flies to Italy to find the man, and “hilarity ensues” when the two trek across the country to return their father’s remains to the remote village where he was born, Iannotta said.
“It takes time to unpack their relationship, with lots of bumps and detours along the way,” he said. “But there’s an underlying Chicago thread throughout the movie, and how much love I have for it.”
In one scene, shown in the clip below, Lucky sits on an Italian roadside while glowing over his home city, where “one street could be completely different from the other.”
“Mexican, Chinese, Polish and Italian — real Italian,” he tells his brother. “It’s not like you see on TV. There’s a kindness there. There’s a love.”
“My Country” shows its first public screening at 7 p.m. Monday at York Theater in suburban Elmhurst. Tickets cost $12 and can be bought online.