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October 3, 2018

A Talk with Christopher "Cristoforo" Magliozzi

Tell us about you.

I am a born-and-raised Boston local who is passionate about stories that bridge understanding among different generations, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. I initially worked as a designer and nonfiction filmmaker, but since starting graduate school I have been exploring fiction and hybrid approaches to visual storytelling. Now developing my MFA thesis at the University of Texas at Austin, I feel fortunate that my very first fiction short that I wrote and directed here, Beeswax, is still finding opportunities to screen in new places. Like San Diego!

How did your passion for movies and for directing start?

It began with a general love for telling stories coupled with a fascination with how things work and learning new technology—from a 3-year-old conducting hand puppet for my parents’ entertainment to commandeering my Dad’s camcorder and webcam to explore the possibilities of tape-based video and Lego animation. While I enjoy many forms of art-making, by the end of college I found that filmmaking offered a nexus of many—a collaborative medium incorporating acting, writing, design, photography, and music!

How did you get the idea for your short film?

For my first fiction film, I wanted to draw from stories personal to me. My father is an accordionist who composed the music for the film and plays the silhouetted figure in the movie. My grandfather was a do-it-yourself sort with a green thumb who could also make or fix anything with his hands—it was a short leap to imagine a character like him repairing an accordion and setting its reeds with beeswax in a traditional way. We began shooting the movie to the day of the anniversary of his death, actually.

Having my own accordion repaired offered me some insight into its insides. From that experience, there is documentary footage that actually appears in flashes at one point in the movie. Finally, I stirred in the idea of a generational gap a step further removed than my own and so came the idea of a granddaughter at odds with her grandfather as she discovers family traditions for the first time.

Do you see an Italian audience differently than any other?

I feel asking what an Italian audience is, in of itself, raises interesting questions about how cultural identities exist both domestically and abroad. As an Italian American, I have always been fascinated by what facets of a culture and history persevere through immigration, assimilation, and time.

I grew up watching both Italian films as well as films by Italian American directors. In doing so, I always felt more connected to small-town stories like those in Il Postino, Cinema Paradiso, or Ciao, Professore! I loved the optimism in many of Frank Capra’s films but noticed that the lead characters were not typically Italian Americans. Where I did see Italian American characters, such as in films by Scorsese or Coppola, the experiences felt less relatable for me.

My childhood was my grandfather burying a fig tree underground to insulate it until spring from the harsh Boston winters. It was my grandfather hand-making me a soccer net or turning the lathe to fashion chess pieces. It was my father’s daily commitment to music and accordion. And yes, it was a lot of epic cooking from my mother and grandmother. But it wasn’t just that. And that is something I wanted to stress in Beeswax — an Italian American experience less mean streets and more backyard chickens.

What is the main thing you would want for Beeswax to pass on to the audience?

We all deal with loss in our own ways. It sometimes looks like we’re miles apart emotionally from someone we meet, but perhaps if we look a little closer we are framing the same very human impulses differently.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am currently in development of my MFA thesis film that explores a lantinx bookstore owner’s last opportunities to pass on her love of reading on the day the store is closing.