INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR VICKI VASILOPOULOS
A film highlighting the lives and plights of three master tailors is currently in production
"Men of the Cloth" has been a decade-long labor of love for filmmaker, Vicki Vasilopoulos, who describes the project as a story that unravels the complexity of the tailor’s artistry and how he crafts a garment in such a way that it moves and breathes with the person who is wearing it.
The film highlights the experiences of these three master tailors as immigrant artisans in the U.S and their challenging roles in the twilight of their career. The basis of the story is essentially a human story, and that is what makes it universal. The characters of "Men of the Cloth" epitomize a tradition that distinguishes the individual, and values artistry above any financial gain.
I recently spoke with Vicky Vasilopoulos. She painted a clear picture of the film's message along with her hopes and plans for the future of her project. What influenced you to make a film on this subject and what makes your protagonists' stories special to you? R - There are three main characters in my film – two of them are Italian American and one of them is Italian. I met one of my characters (Checchino Fonticoli) when I traveled to Italy on a reporting trip during my tenure as a fashion editor for the men’s newsmagazine, DNR. Checchino was the head designer and master tailor at Brioni when I toured the factory and tailoring school in Penne , Italy and that sowed the seeds for the idea of the film.
About a year later I did some research and scouted the tailoring terrain in the U.S. I paid a visit to tailors Nino Corvato in New York and Joe Centofanti in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Both had a reputation as masters of their trade. I knew right away that they were incredibly compelling and sympathetic characters. But if they had been the best tailors ever to walk the earth but had an entirely different personality, then I may not have cast them for the film.
The critical aspect for me was their personal background and life story, along with their amazing passion for their craft. Apart from being superior tailors, they were articulate, and that’s key, because my audience needs to relate to my characters on screen. In addition, I saw that there was both contrast (in their career paths and generational outlook) as well as important similarities that I could underscore in the film. What is the nature of the film? How are you following the lives of the protagonists? R - "Men of the Cloth" is essentially a portrait of these master tailors – it’s a moment of time captured over several years of their lives. The film has a poetic, nostalgic tone. Their journeys all start in Italy , whether physically or metaphorically, because that’s where they learned their trade. Their passion and pride is akin to a religion, and many viewers will recognize their approach and state of mind as thoroughly Italian. Where would you like to show it when it's finished? Do you have a distributor yet? R - I’d like to premiere the film at an established film festival. The success of a small independent film like mine is often dependent on the exposure it receives on the festival circuit. It raises the profile of the film and attracts media attention and potential distributor interest.
I will be designing a distribution plan that will include screening events in locales with large Italian American communities, including New York , New Jersey , Connecticut , Illinois , Pennsylvania , Ohio , and California. I’d like to facilitate this with the participation of the National Italian American Foundation (one of the film’s funders) and other local Italian American cultural organizations. >
My distribution plan includes a U.S. television broadcast, video on demand, extensive educational outreach to both Italian studies and fashion/design departments at universities, and a DVD release.
For more information about "Men of the Cloth", you can visit the website at www.menoftheclothfilm.com. (di Jeannine Guilyard - del 2012-01-17)
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