PBS

The Italian Americans

Premiered February 2015

The Italian Americans reveals how Italian immigrants challenged the notion of the American melting pot chronicling four generations of Italian-American lives, from the massive late 19th Century wave of immigration to today.

THE ITALIAN AMERICANS is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., and Ark Media, in association with John Maggio Productions. Corporate funding is provided by DelGrosso Foods. Foundation funding is provided by the NEH, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Annenberg Foundation. Major funding is provided by CPB and PBS.

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About the Show

The Italian Americans reveals the unique and distinctive qualities of one immigrant group’s experience, and how these qualities, over time, have shaped and challenged America. Unlike other immigrant groups, many Italians did not come to America to stay. At the turn of the 20th century, most came to work, earn money to support their families, and eventually return home. Nearly half of the first generation Italian immigrants did return to Italy.

For those that made America home, their struggle to maintain a distinct Italian culture was guided by remarkably powerful ideals of family that had always been at the center of their lives. In the Italian family, the needs of the collective came before the individual — a value system often at odds with American ideals of freedom and personal choice. While the power of the Italian family became a source of strength, it also bred suspicion, popularized in popular media as a dark, criminal element.

This clash of culture echoed through generations of Italian Americans and, as they entered positions of political, social and cultural influence, it has left its mark on the American landscape.

For those that made America home, their struggle to maintain a distinct Italian culture was guided by remarkably powerful ideals of family that had always been at the center of their lives. In the Italian family, the needs of the collective came before the individual — a value system often at odds with American ideals of freedom and personal choice.

About the Filmmakers

John Maggio, Executive Producer, Producer/Director, Writer Filmmaker John Maggio's work appears regularly on both of PBS's premier series: FRONTLINE and American Experience. Maggio's films have been honored with the National Emmy Award, Writers Guild Award, an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

Muriel Soenens, Producer/Director Muriel Soenens is an award-winning documentary director and producer based in Brooklyn. Her work, spanning the past fifteen years, has focused primarily on contemporary social and cultural issues, as well as historical films. She has produced several films for PBS's FRONTLINE.

Julia Marchesi, Producer Julia Marchesi is a film producer whose work has focused on themes of race, ethnicity, and American history. She was a co-producer on Henry Louis Gates's PBS series Faces of America, African American Lives 2 and produced an episode of Finding Your Roots.

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