Mob "Banker" Film, Federico Castellucio's Directorial Debut, Is a Gem

Federico Castelluccio may be better known as "Furio," the name of the character he played on the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos, but he has come a long way since then.

He can now add to his resume the role of director of The Brooklyn Banker, a gem of a film that premiered last week at Manhattan's Cinema Village to a sold-out crowd. A national campaign also kicked off.

The project, first released as a trailer titled Lilly of The Feast, came together last year, and is the brainchild of Federico and Michael Ricigliano, a prolific writer who penned the screenplay. The title was changed when the film was completed.

The Brooklyn Banker is set in the early 1970s, in the tight-knit Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood, which was 95 percent Italian at the time. The film harkens back to an earlier era, one in which everyone looked out for each other -- and also kept their mouths shut.

Lead actor Troy Garity (Gangster Squad, Bandits) puts on a superb performance as Santo, a legit guy who gets pulled into a mob web. He not only aces it as a legit banker but puts on the tough guy suit just as well. The film is about the importance of family, not "the family," and shows the difficult balancing act a person goes through when trying to live with one foot in two separate worlds.

Brooklyn Banker also offers great performances by seasoned actor Paul Sorvino as Santo's father-in-law, Artie Pasquale (Sopranos), David Proval (Sopranos), John Bianco (Sopranos, Daredevil) and Elizabeth Masucci, who plays Santo's wife. The film is currently being shown at theaters nationally from NY to California. Writer Mike Ricigliano is a lawyer by day and writer by night. 

He was determined to bring to the silver screen the world in which he was raised.

As for how he juggled his writing duties with full-time attorney work, he said:

"Most of my writing is done at night after my long day at the law office. Five years ago is when I caught the writing bug to work on a script. I wanted to put out a film that would capture where I came from, in Brooklyn. I pitched the idea with Federico and he loved the script and he came on board right away," said Mike Ricigliano.

Also in the works for Mike are two plays, one about an Irish B&B called "Falen House" and the other called "Godless," which centers on a devoted Catholic politician faced with the same-sex marriage "issue." 

Mike has been involved with plays and films previously, including Creative Vision, where he worked with Federico as well. His aim is to make a major splash on both stage and screen.

The dapper John Bianco was among the attendees at last week's screening. Many probably better remember him for his role on The Sopranos as leg-breaker  Gerry Torciano, who got whacked in a highly memorable scene in which he and Silvio dine with two fetching young women. Bianco, like Federico, has been immersed in television and film for years, in his case, since 1994. From the TV series Law & Order to the superhero flick DaredevilJohn has a face you won't soon forget. 

He spoke about Brooklyn Banker:
"I read the script and was interested right a way. It also helped that I knew Mike and had worked with Federico in the past. I loved the era, the '70's, but I also enjoyed the way the script moved. I enjoyed playing Carmine and try to color the character different than, say, Gerry from the Sopranos.  
"I also don't mind being typecast -- if it opens doors, so be it. I also enjoy playing any character whether it is a cop or a mobster. Also it was amazing working with David Proval."

John currently is working on Sunset Park, with Michael Trevino (Vampire Diaries). 

Brooklyn Banker is a must-see for anyone who appreciates vintage acting and stellar storytelling. 

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