Entertainment, Lifestyle

Lynn filmmakers’ “Ciao America” will be screened at Lynn Auditorium

(Courtesy Photo)

LYNN — Film-making brothers Frank and Joe Ciota loved watching movies when they were growing up in Lynn.

“I’d go to the Surf Cinema in Swampscott all the time,” said Frank, the director. The drive-in theaters on the Lynnway and on Squire Road in Revere were also favorite spots. “And the Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge; I saw so many double features there.”

“I saw ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ on the big screen. I’ll never forget it.”

Joe, the writer and elder by six years, recalls spending countless hours viewing movies on Saturday afternoons. Spaghetti westerns were his favorites. Little did he know that years later he’d be working with the son of Ennio Morricone, the man who created the soundtracks for those unforgettable shot-in-Italy Sergio Leone westerns. “That music stayed with me,” he said.

Both are somewhat dismayed that most films today are viewed on tiny iPhones.

“You have to see movies on the big screen,” said Frank. “‘Lawrence of Arabia’ even on TV doesn’t cut it.”

On Friday evening, June 15, the Ciota brothers’ film “Ciao America” will be featured on the big screen in Lynn Auditorium. Frank and Joe will be in the house, answering viewers’ questions and talking about the movie, which was shot entirely on location in Italy. The film’s star, Eddie Malavarca, will also be there, traveling from his New Jersey home to share in the fun. Tickets, $3, will be available at the door or by calling 781-599-show.

Revere native Roger Marino, co-founder of high-tech firm EMC, produced “Ciao America,” which features an international cast that includes Giancarlo Giannini, Paul Sorvino and Violante Placido. The original soundtrack was composed by Andrea Morricone, son of the aforementioned Oscar winner.

Based loosely on Joe’s experiences coaching American football in Italy, it is the story of a young Italian-American (Malavarca) who travels to Italy at the behest of his grandfather whereupon he finds work, love and eventually learns the true value of family. Much of the film was shot in Pratola Serra, the town in Avellino that was home for many Ciota relatives, including their mother’s parents.

Frank said not many filmgoers saw “Ciao America” when it was released in 20 multiplexes in 2002. ” ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ was next to us, and we both were seeking the same audience.”

And then fate intervened.

“I remember we were rushing to get the film done, to have it ready for the Boston Film Fest that year,” said Joe. “Frank went to Italy to pick up the film in technicolor.”

“I remember picking up the film, throwing it in the trunk of my rental car, and speeding to the airport,” added Frank, continuing the story. “On the car radio, the Italian broadcasters were screaming. They were chaotic. I wasn’t sure what they were saying. So, I pulled up to a coffee shop, and went inside. I watched on TV, as the events of September 11 were unfolding.” Days later, Frank finally returned home, through Canada, and their little film was lost in the chaos.

“Ciao America” was not the Ciotas’ first film. “The North End,” which came out in 1997 and starred Frank Vincent, was a critical success that got great support from New England moviegoers.

Joe is now working on “Miracle in Ferragosto,” a fantastical tale of a young Italian-American who, while in Italy, travels back in time and meets his grandparents.

Movie Night at Lynn Auditorium, “Ciao America,” Friday, June 15, 8 p.m. Tickets, $3, will be available at the door or by calling 781-599-show.

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