Love in the Age of Dion (USA, 90 min)
Directed by: Philip Cioffari
Tod Engle, Jerry Ferris, Marta Milans, Christina Romanello, Bridget Trama, Waverly Yates
For 26 years, Frankie Razzini has carried the picture of his first love in his wallet. Now, with his second marriage on the rocks, his life in L.A. in shambles, he returns to his old neighborhood in the Bronx, looking for her and for answers to what's gone wrong in his life. With his childhood buddy and two women from the neighborhood, he re-visits his favorite haunts. What he finds changes his (and their) lives in startling and unexpected ways.
Q&A with writer and filmmaker Philip Cioffari by Lina Zeldovich.
LZ: Love in the Age of Dion is not only a movie. It has also been a play and now it is a book. It seems that the story is somehow very important to you and you are trying to get the world to hear it. Is that true?
PC: The movie was a play first, which ran for eight months at the Belmont Italian American Playhouse in the Bronx . Then I wrote it as a (still) unpublished novel. Then as a film script. And yes, it's an important story to me, which wouldn't let me leave it behind, and so the more people that see it, the happier I am.
LZ: You seem to be a bit of a jack of all trades: a writer, a playwright, a film producer. How does it feel to wear all these different hats and which one is your favorite?
PC: First and foremost, I'm a writer. I've been doing that since I was eight or nine. Fiction is my primary genre, though I love writing for the stage and screen as well. And I keep sane by doing only one genre--or type of activity--at a time.
LZ: Unlike many other filmmakers who produce a film a year or so, this was a new experience for you (correct?) How did you make it work? How did you chose your actors, your crew, etc?
PC: Because I worked writing and directing plays, I had met a lot of actors who I then auditioned for roles in the movie. I had an open call for auditions to fill several of the roles, so there were several actors I was working with for the first time. I had a friend who was a TV producer who introduced me to a DP and after that I simply found my own way through the act of making a film. I hired an art director and an assistant director, my brother in law and my sister pitched in. I went out scouting locations for several months and then suddenly we were ready to start shooting. I was fortunate to find an editor whose work I admired and we put the raw footage into manageable form. I should also mention that a lot of stress and sleepless nights went into the process, as well.
LZ: What’s your next project?
PC I have two recently finished novels which I'd like to see in print. I've been working on some stories and gearing up to tackle another novel, and screenplay. For me, it's always a matter of impulse. Whatever pops up that makes me want to write about it. It's something I can't predict.
When his L.A. life and his second marriage fall apart, Frankie Razzini, a guy who likes to roam about, comes back to the Bronx to understand what he had done wrong in the past. In his wallet he carries a picture of his first love, and deep in his soul a bitter remorse, and perhaps a secret. He meets up with his best friend Eddie in the old pub they had once favored and strikes up a conversation with Brenda. Eddie's shy, Frankie's charismatic and Brenda's unattached, so to equalize the situation, she brings her own friend, Carmel , along for the ride. We may have a myriad of typical ideas where this double date may go, but we would be wrong. There’s more to discover. We just need to go back in time, because the past defines the present. And for Frankie Razzini, the past seems to overwhelm his present to the extent it leaves him tearful. There is a mystery to the story, which drives the movie forward along with the potentially budding romances. We need to know what happened twenty-six years ago, what happened to the girl in the picture and how would it affect what happens now. We keep waiting for someone to finally break the spell of silence, but Frankie, the one person who certainly knows the truth, won’t tell us. Eddie will. Once a play and a book, and now a movie by Phillip Cioffari, Love in the Age of Dion, is a pensive romantic journey into the Bronx , masterfully laid out for us by the author. "Like most everything I write, it is a mix of fact and invention," says Philip Cioffari, the writer and director. "Some parts are close to autobiographical, though perhaps altered. I grew up in the Bronx and use it often in my work. I knew people very much like the people in the film, though I was depicting no one person in particular." Philip Cioffari grew up in the Bronx and received his B.A. from St. John's University and his Ph.D. in English from NYU. He has written a number of one-act plays which were produced Off-Off Broadway. He also published a story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, and a crime novel, CATHOLIC BOYS. His new book, JESUSVILLE, about four people in the New Mexico desert searching for an hallucinogenic plant which is rumored to enable one to see God, is coming out next year. When asked what would he do if he wasn’t writing and directing, he answered, "I couldn't imagine his life without those things."