Caterina, a beautiful Italian widow, teaches Italian to seventeen year old Peter in that other city of seven hills, Yonkers, NY. Peter's passion for life re-ignites feelings Caterina hasn't experienced since her husband's death and soon it becomes apparent to Peter that only he can release his teacher's heart and set her free to love again. (36 mins, color, 1998)
Written and Directed by Vincent Sassone
Cinematography by Jeri Sopanen
Edited by Paula Heredia
Produced by James Ellis
Casting by Rob Decina
Festivals, Awards & Distribution: Distributed by Big Film Shorts; screened on Northwest Airlines (Indies In Flight Series); Best Narrative Short, 2000 Westchester Film Festival; Three Rivers Film Festival; Texas Film Festival; Cleveland International Film Festival; Ohio Independent Film Festival; New York Film Buffs; Brooklyn College Italian American Filmmakers Conference; Breckenridge Festival of Film; Brooklyn Film Festival; Atlantic City Film Festival. Feature screenplay awarded the 1999 GFI Writer's Grant.
Backstory: Sassone's feature script of Italian Lessons was optioned in 1999 by producers Edgar Lansbury and Gerald Rafshoon with big aspirations and stars Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and Andrew Keegan attached to play Caterina and Peter but the $3.5M budget proved too big for this little indie and the production was abandoned. Several attempts were made to produce the script as an Italian-Canadian co-production by European and Canadian producers Ricardo Freixa, Klaus Volkenborn, Allesandro Verdecchi, Phyllis Ellis, Nicholas Tabbarock and Ritchard Findlay starring Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Thomas Ian Nicholas. To facilitate this, Sassone acquired Italian citizenship which he was able to do because his paternal grandfather had never become a naturalized US citizen. The lovely script, admired by many, remains unproduced. Sassone still has dual citizenship.
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