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Italian Americans in California

Italian Americans in California

George De Stefano (December 26, 2014)
Gianfranco Norelli and Suma Kurien

The new film by Gianfranco Norelli and Suma Kurien will come to PBS – with your support


I recently wrote about Finding the Mother Lode, the first-rate new documentary about Italian immigration to California by filmmakers Gianfranco Norelli and Suma Kurien.  Under the new – albeit less evocative – title, Italian Americans in California, the film will be made available as a three-part miniseries to Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations nationwide on Friday, January 16, 2015, via satellite feed from the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA). 

Preview the three, thirty-minute episodes at the following links using the password “CaliforniaItalians”: 

Episode 1: Finding the Mother Lode 

Episode 2: The Making of Italian San Francisco 

Episode 3: Little Italys and Beyond 

Italian Americans in California had its Public Broadcasting System (PBS) premiere December 24, on KVIE-Sacramento. Other PBS stations, however, will decide to broadcast it based on audience interest. So if you would like to see this important film get the exposure it deserves, contact your local PBS affiliate and voice your support.

To find your local PBS affiliate, visit the PBS website.

The first documentary to recount the story of the Italian Americans of California, the film focuses on seven communities where Italian immigrants settled and built communities: San Francisco, Sonoma County, Amador County, Stockton, Monterey, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Italian American history in California began with the Gold Rush of 1849-50. Italian Americans in California starts there, and goes on to depict important milestones through the first-person accounts of individuals, woven together with comments from scholars who provide historical and social context. The film not only shows the challenges the immigrants to California faced and their achievement of remarkable social and economic success. It also examines how ethnic identity is both maintained and transformed with the passage of time. 

Pane Amaro, an earlier documentary by Norelli and Kurien, focused on the experiences of southern Italian immigrants to the East Coast of the United States. Italian Americans in California tells a strikingly different story, one that is indispensable for a fuller understanding of the epic, and ongoing history of Italian immigration to America. 

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