America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill will debut online July 10th through 19th aspart of the 20th annual St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. This historical documentary traces the roots of the venerable St. Louis neighborhood known as “The Hill.”
America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill tells the story of this unique Italian-American neighborhood by looking at its past, present, and future. In the late 1800s, Italians immigrated to south St. Louis to work in the many clay mines there. These enterprising immigrants quickly took over the area and began to make it their own, building their own church, starting their own businesses and creating a self sufficient “city within a city.” The Hill has a vibrant athletic tradition, home to baseball royalty Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, and multiple players on the 1950 U.S. soccer team that defeated England in what is referred to by many as the biggest upset in World Cup History. Incredibly, “The Hill” remains prosperous to this day, mixing residential homes with businesses of all varieties, including numerous world-famous restaurants.
America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill was a two-year odyssey that began in May of 2018 and is the culmination of the vision of three St. Louisans: director/producer Joseph Puleo; producer/editor Steve Cakouros; and executive producer Rio Vitale. The film features 55 interviews, including notable personalities such as Chris Stephens, Professor of Italian Studies at St. Louis Community College; Monsignor Vincent Bommarito, pastor of St. Ambrose on “The Hill”; Joe DeGregorio, known as “The Hill Tour Guide”; Gary Mormino , author of “Immigrants on the Hill: Italian-Americans in St. Louis”; and Philip C. McCurdy, architect and author of “An Urban Design Study for the Hill.” Several Hill families also donated their personal 8MM home movies for use in the film, including director Puleo’s.
“We are so excited to have our film America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill be selected as part of the 2020 St. Louis Filmmakers showcase,” said Puleo. “This documentary was made by and for the people of St. Louis and being able to share this film with its intended audience is something we are extremely excited about. Although we always envisioned screening this film to a packed house on the big screen, we completely understand the move to online and are thankful to Cinema St. Louis for prioritizing the safety and well-being of the people that would have come in person to see the films in this year’s festival. Hopefully, this change gives us filmmakers the opportunity to reach more viewers who would rather stream the films online from the comfort of their own home.”
The filmmakers have plans for festival screenings across the country – and potentially Italy – over the upcoming year, hoping to shed light on this historic neighborhood. They will also be pursuing offers from distributors to give their film the opportunity to reach as large an audience as possible for their intended demographic. Updates on future screenings, awards and further information on the film can be found on their Facebook page.