Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

Documentary illuminates Sardinian supper for the dead

A few years ago, we featured a unique collection of videos available on Vimeo that showcase the heritage of Sardinia. Accessible through the Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia’s on-demand platform, “ISRECINEMA,” the collection been updated since then. The collection includes photo essays, documentaries, short works and animated films. The platform contains the institute’s earliest works from the late 1970s as well as the most recent productions, all of which were filmed on the island of Sardinia. Some works have achieved significant acclaim, such as Paolo Zucca’s “The Referee,” which earned the David di Donatello Award for Best Short Film. One compelling …

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Our stars align for Hollywood award

Italian-American leaders and Hollywood luminaries converged on downtown Los Angeles recently for a groundbreaking award ceremony. The event took place on Jan. 18 at AGBO, the studio run by industry powerhouses Joseph and Anthony Russo. The dynamic duo presented fellow Hollywood heavyweight Louis D’Esposito with their inaugural Renaissance Award. The annual ceremony was launched to honor Italian Americans who have had a positive impact on the entertainment industry and to raise funds for the Russo Brothers Italian American Filmmaker Forum. The purpose of the forum is “to champion emerging filmmakers who are trying to explore the Italian-American experience and share …

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Cinematic sea change

I can’t be the only Italian American who watches movies well after they’ve ended to search for Italian surnames in the credits. Do you do it, too? As the film’s countless contributors scroll by, I feel a twinge of pride every time a paesan appears among them. Often there are quite a few, holding positions ranging from best boy, stunt double and key grip to writer, producer and director. With so many Italian Americans helping to put the sparkle in Tinseltown, one has to wonder: Why does Hollywood continue to treat us so shabbily? Our enormous positive impact on the …

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Cabrini film a miracle in the making

The seed for “Cabrini,” the soon-to-be-released biopic of America’s first saint, was planted nearly seven decades ago by a young man in a small church in Philadelphia. The year was 1955 and J. Eustace Wolfington was just starting out in business. Born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love, he was 23 years old at the time. A devout Catholic, Wolfington was hoping to fit in an early-morning Mass before the start of a long workday. By chance, he chose St. Donato Church, where he encountered a statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who founded the parish’s school in …

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A blast from our past

After more than 30 years of editing Fra Noi, I thought I knew a thing or two about the challenges our ancestors faced in America at the turn of the 20th century. I’ve learned from countless articles about the crowded tenements and abject poverty, the dangerous jobs at scant pay, and I can enumerate the Sicilian-born laborers lynched by a New Orleans mob in 1891. But to know is one thing and to understand quite another. My eyes were truly opened to the gross indecencies our forebears endured when I attended a preview screening of “Cabrini” on Oct. 24 at …

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Lyric’s production of Donizetti comedy an utter delight

Delightful. No single word better describes the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current rendition of “The Daughter of the Regiment.” There’s a giddy magic about the production that conjures laughter and applause at every turn and has the audience floating on air. Donizetti’s beloved French-language comedy tells the tale of Marie, the orphaned “daughter” of a military unit, who defies both the regiment and her long-lost relatives to be with Tonio, the young man she has fallen in love with. As Marie, Lisette Oropesa appears for all the world to be an impetuous tomboy, dancing gracefully in the upper reaches of …

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Raineri goes to bat for Columbus, Balbo

A longtime government official turned political consultant, Enza Raineri helped save three cherished icons from the trash heap of history by adhering to her crisis management playbook. What’s an ethnic group to do when its icons are under assault? There’s the traditional approach, which relies heavily on anger-fueled protest marches. Then there’s the Enza Raineri way. If you were to codify the crisis management playbook of this longtime government official turned political consultant, it would read something like this: Get your facts in order: Be prepared to let them know exactly where you’re coming from and why this issue is …

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Rep. DeLuca spearheads heritage month bill

With a bill establishing Italian American Heritage Month in Illinois hanging in the balance, State Rep. Anthony DeLuca pulled out all the stops to ensure its passage. In a political landscape that’s bitterly divided, Illinois Rep. Anthony DeLuca is an increasingly rare breed of elected official. “Anthony is a bridge builder. He’s a consensus builder,” Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans President Ron Onesti says. “His fellow legislators know that if their constituents have a need, Anthony will listen to them and do everything in his power to meet that need, regardless of their party, because it’s the right thing …

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Reaching for the stars

The readers of Fra Noi never cease to amaze me. Any time I’ve asked you to lend a hand in times of need, you’ve come through in spades. When you learned a couple of months ago that inflation had taken its toll on our bottom line, you didn’t miss a beat. Hundreds upon hundreds of you — more than 10% of our total readership — opened up your hearts and your pocketbooks, filling our coffers with funds sufficient to cover a mind-boggling 80% of our projected deficit for the year. Week after week, white envelopes have flooded into the Fra …

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15 years, just like that!

I eagerly await the coming of September every year, but this year feels special because it marks 15 years since I took over penning this column. I’ve covered topics ranging from the good old days of church processions and carnivals to the good times we had at the favorite places of our youth, like “The Ave” (Michigan Avenue). Many of the topics I’ve covered have resulted in online discussions and real-life visits to the nostalgic locations those columns mentioned. The greatest source of information and inspiration for this column is conversations and discussions I’ve been a part of. As everyone …

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