Williamsburg’s Giglio Feast takes starring role in new mob movie

Bossing through the feast: Actor Paul Sorvino, center, plays a mafia leader in the new film “The Brooklyn Banker,” which is set during the 1973 Giglio festival in Williamsburg.
Brooklyn Paper
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It is ready for its close-up!

The Giglio festival will dance its way onto the silver screen in the new mob film “The Brooklyn Banker,” opening Aug. 5. The flick, which follows a bank official from Williamsburg with ties to a local organized crime family, features scenes set during the 113-year-old Italian-American festival, and to get the right look, filmmakers went right to the source, said the film’s producer.

“We took scenes from the actual feast,” said Michael Ricigliano Jr., who also wrote “The Brooklyn Banker.” “All of the guys in movie are guys who lift the actual Giglio tower every year.”

The mob movie was filmed entirely in Williamsburg, featuring scenes shot inside and outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and local figures such as the members of the brass band of the Giglio feast. The participants are overjoyed that a piece of their rich culture has been captured on film, said a Giglio festival spokeswoman.

“They’re all excited — they’re proud. It’s going to show a lot of really beautiful things about their neighborhood and their culture and their family ties,” said Carolyn Stone. “They’re all excited about it.”

The flick is set in the 1970s, and the production scared up vintage duds for the actors, including the same outfits worn by Giglio lifters in 1973, said Ricigliano. The costumes brought back happy memories for the marchers, according to Stone.

“I think for a lot of them it’s also a happy memory. Some have been there such long time – to see something set in ’70s, it’s sort of like a trip down memory lane for them,” she said.

Ricigliano’s family grew up in the Williamsburg neighborhood, and his uncle used to be a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. He wrote the film based on stories that his father shared with him about living in the neighborhood. Modern-day audiences will be able to relate to the film, he said, because — though it is set in the 1970s — many of the concerns are the same.

“I have a scene where the main characters talk about the neighborhood, the tradition, and how things are changing,” said Ricigliano Jr. “Kind of like now with the gentrification in Williamsburg, and how people are holding on. It has mob influences in it, but it’s more about [the banker’s] loyalties, and a lot about the neighborho­od.”

Organizers of the Giglio festival hope that the film will increase interest in the annual feast.

“I think it’s a nice opportunity to let many more people know about the beautiful tradition of the festival, the Giglio feast,” said Stone. “I’m hoping when the movie comes out and people see it, and they’re very impressed with the Giglio. It will be one more opportunity to let them know that this still exists and it’s an ongoing living tradition.”

“The Brooklyn Banker” at Cinema Village [22 E. 12th St. between Fifth Avenue and University Place in Manhattan]. Aug. 5, showtimes to be determined. $12.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
My uncle was a Giglio lifter for many years, but I don't think he likes mob movies. I'll have to let him know to watch for this one in case he's interested.
July 27, 2016, 10:29 am
maryann maragioglio from brooklyn says:
I was there at the filming of the movie.....Amazing to be part of it.
July 27, 2016, 2:52 pm
Nino Brown from Astoria/Flushing Queens says:
How can I be apart of this project? also helped assemble & then climbed the Giglio last year to unhook the crane and tie the ropes on the sides to keep it for swaying one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life but for a good cause to maintain the tradition of this feast and whatever left of Italian culture in NYC
July 27, 2016, 5:01 pm
Donnarose Rosato from Williamsburg says:
My uncle Nichola Vecchione used to build A
Giglio every year in the 1950's & the whole neighborhood would come in my Granparents driveway to watch them dance it!
The Giglio band would even come & play..
Thank God for home movies, I have it on film and can watch the memories forever...
July 27, 2016, 5:53 pm
RoseAnn DiDomenico from Howard Beach says:
My Grandpa was Capo in the Feast the year i was born 1965. Ive been a Giglio girl ever since i can remember. Today i have a stand in the Feast the Big Chair Photo and participate in volunteer work as well. I was there the day of filming wearing the 1973 feast shirts and was proud to be apart of it. It was an amazing day. Cant wait to see the movie.
July 27, 2016, 6:21 pm
Buzz Kill from Hollywood says:
A movie with Paul Sorvino that opens on one screen at independent theater on 12th street is a flop.

However, Mean Streets opened on one screen
July 27, 2016, 11:35 pm
vincent from Williamsburg says:
I grew up on the northside in the 60,s-70,s I was a Giglio lifter from 1969 to well into the 80,s I enjoyed the feast every year I also had a relative that was one of the carpenters who use to build the Giglio when it was built of wood after 1968- 69 it was a metal structure I have seen many Capos in that time I recall in 1969 I was a lifter and they stopped the Giglio and had loud speakers on the Giglio tuned in to the radio and broadcasted to the people who were there that day July 20th when the first moon landing was going on
July 28, 2016, 12:05 am
Rose Marie Pascullo from Williamsburg says:
Growing up in the 60's the feast was the social event of the year. Now, years later, I can still smell the sausage and pepper sandwiches, the zeppole, and the fun we used to have. I was married in Our Lady of Mt Carmel church and these memories have not been diminished by time. They are in my heart and soul forever
July 28, 2016, 9:02 am
Alice Pepe from Williamsburgh says:
It has been a family tradition for years!
July 28, 2016, 8:40 pm
Dalia from Williamsburg (Southside) says:
A wonderful family traditions!!!! As a child my parents always took me there, I took my kids there and now my daughter has taken the grandkids. With all the changes going on in Williamsburg, I'm soo happy that this is something we can always count on.
July 29, 2016, 9:09 am
anthony from north side Williamsburgh says:
I remember it all as I lived right around the corner on Union Ave. Every year a great turn out of people. The bad thing was you could never get a parking space in your own neighborhood.
July 30, 2016, 1:20 pm
Basil from Williamsburgh says:
I remember when the Giglio tower was erected from wood. Ropes were tied to the upper part of the tower with men pulling on them to keep the boards from breaking when Saint Paulinus was danced and swayed. Anthony and I hung out at the corner candy store across the street from where Giglio was erected and stored. I can still hear the striking of hammers and nails in my head when the tower was erected. I remember my friend Rocco Morrow (Big Rock) lifting that heavy wood structure in 90 degrees. God rest his soul.
July 30, 2016, 5:12 pm
Paolino from Nolano says:
Sono un Nolano vivo a broccolino da 49 anni mi Ricordo o giglio a Santamariaanova.
July 31, 2016, 7:55 am
Louise from williamsburg says:
I remember as a kid going to the feast , My Mothers Family are the Ferrara's and they lived on Havermyer st . The feast was a big event in the 50" 60's and 70's . I know it has diminished in size over the years , but it was at one time a grand event . My only sad note is that the story has to be about the mob , I think Italians are more caring and loving than the Mob , I think they should make a different story about them , I am sure we have more going than that .
Aug. 8, 2016, 11:52 am
John from Brooklyn says:
A question for Roseann DiDomenico. Your grandfather was Eddie DiDomenico? Uncle O'Neil?
Feb. 13, 2018, 11:01 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
Una domanda per Paolino, di dove sei? Nola? Abiti a Brooklyn adesso? Fammi sapere quando puoi. Ci settim'
Feb. 13, 2018, 11:08 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
A question for Donnarose Vecchione. Any relation to Mimi and Augie?
Feb. 14, 2018, 12:17 am
To John/bklyn from In response to your questions says:
Yes my grandfather was Eddie DiDomenico.(uncle oneil)
And Donna rose not related to Mimi and Augie vechione.
That was my aunt and uncle. Grew up right next door to them. Aunt Mimi had a daughter named Donna she passed a few years ago and my aunt Mimi passed 6 months ago. She lived to the age of 92. May God rest her soul. I'm Eddie DiDomenicos granddaughter.
June 24, 2018, 4:58 pm

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