EXCLUSIVE: 2022 Emmy nominee John Turturro (Severance) has come aboard the WWII documentary Potentially Dangerous as an executive producer. The first feature from director Zach Baliva is next set to screen at the Ferrara Film Festival in Italy on September 11th.
Potentially Dangerous unveils 80-year-old secrets and shares never-before-discussed stories about the Italian American experience during World War II, when more than half a million of these immigrants were targeted as potentially dangerous by the U.S. government.
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During the course of the Second World War, the U.S. Government restricted the actions and freedoms of 600,000+ Italian residents. All were declared “Enemy Aliens,” and many were placed under curfew, banned from their workplaces, evacuated from their homes and communities, and sent to internment camps in Montana, Texas and elsewhere. Many of these people had been in the United States for decades, had children born in their adopted country and had sons serving in the U.S. Military.
During this era, Italians made up the biggest foreign-born group in the country. Interned Italians were not charged with a crime and were not allowed legal representation. They were subjected to “loyalty hearings” and held for the duration of the war. The United States government considered them “Potentially Dangerous” not based on anything they had done, but instead on where they were born. In the years following the war, most Italians refused to speak about what happened to them. Even 80 years later, many chose to remain silent. Until now. For the first time on film, their stories are about to be heard and the truth revealed.
Potentially Dangerous was produced through a grant from the 2021 Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grant. Partnered with the Italian Sons and Daughters of America and the National Italian American Foundation, the Russo Brothers Forum Grant awards multiple $8,000 grants to filmmakers from around the world to create documentary, fiction or non-fiction narrative films that explore the Italian American experience for the benefit of future generations.
Zach Baliva, Noah Readhead and Naomi Baliva produced the film, which had its world premiere at the Boston Film Festival in April, and won its first Best Documentary award at the Little Rock Italian Film Festival that same month. Pic is currently in search of distribution.
“I’m so proud to give a voice to the people who were brave enough to share their stories with us for the first time, and I’m grateful to have been selected by the Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grant to bring forth this important, untold story of our past,” said Baliva. “Potentially Dangerous reveals what happened to Italians in America during WWII and examines the lasting effects of these events on our culture. This story has modern-day implications about issues like immigration and justice, and it can help us learn to treat others with empathy and understanding.”
“This is an important and oftentimes overlooked era,” said Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Grant co-founder Joe Russo, whose action-thriller The Gray Man directed with brother Anthony Russo is currently climbing the ranks of Netflix’s most-watched movies. “Our sincere thanks to the filmmakers for bringing this issue to light and preserving it for future generations.”
“Potentially Dangerous is a critically important film shining light on a story that was nearly lost to the ephemera of history,” added Turturro. “As an Italian American, I’m honored to help bring this film to a wide audience that will discover how the pertinent issues it raises are still applicable today.”
Turturro is an actor, writer, director and producer who is currently nominated for an Emmy for his role as Irving on Apple TV+’s Severance, having previously won for a guest role on Monk. The decorated actor has most recently appeared in films like The Batman and The Jesus Rolls—the latter of which he also wrote and directed. Other recent TV credits include The Plot Against America and The Night Of.
Turturro is represented by UTA and attorney George Sheanshang. Watch the trailer for Potentially Dangerous above.
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