The National Italian American Foundation and the Italian Sons and Daughters of America recently announced the awardees of grants under the Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum 2019. This initiative helps to fund films depicting and exploring the Italian American experience for the benefit of future generations. One of this year’s selections is Michael Cavalieri for his film Ritornato. It is Michael’s belief and objective that Italian Americans need to be portrayed in positive roles, with characters presented in diverse roles, rather than that of the stereotypical tough guys.
Cavalieri is an actor, writer and director whose film, Ritornato, tells the emotional story of a man who loses all of his loved ones and sets off on a journey to revisit his past and fulfill a promise made to his dying mother.
The movie will begin shooting on location in Limina, Sicily, on July 1st. Based on true events, Ritornato is dedicated to Cavalieri’s mother, Mary and his Grandpa Agatino, both of whom endured great sacrifices to provide the family with the chance for a better life. It is Cavalieri’s hope that his film will inspire other Italian Americans to write and share their stories.
Cavalieri made his feature film debut starring opposite Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank in Columbia Pictures, “The Next Karate Kid.” Since that debut, he has had supporting roles in numerous features including acclaimed director Walter Hill’s “Last Man Standing,” starring Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken. Michael has also guest starred on numerous hit TV shows including ER and NYPD BLUE.
Michael’s cinematic experience extends to multiple award-winning films dealing with the Italian American experience which have been presented at film festivals world-wide. LA Times critic Kevin Thomas hailed Michael’s performance in “The Stonecutter” as “outstanding…he has terrific presence and focus. His performance lures us into this increasingly complex and provocative drama.”