News Column

Bergen Actor's Feature Film Debuts

July 17, 2013



WHAT: "Fratello."

WHEN: 7 p.m. July 24.

WHERE: The Old Canal Inn, 2 E. Passaic Ave., Nutley; 973-284- 1272.

HOW MUCH: Free admission. Email if you wish to attend.

A little Italian dressing does wonders for a salad. Why not a movie?

It remains to be seen how the film originally to be titled "On the Run," a debut feature written, produced and co-starring 26-year- old North Arlington actor Gerard Garilli, does on the festival circuit, now that's it's been released as "Fratello."

Then there's the extra Neapolitan seasoning, not to mention the extra fillip of star-power, brought to the table by supporting player Joseph R. Gannascoli. You know him better as Vito Spatafore Sr., the gay mobster who figured prominently in the fifth and sixth seasons of "The Sopranos."

"I was a huge 'Sopranos' fan, and I still am," Garilli says. "I tweeted him, said I had a role for him. He emailed me, and we talked about it for about an hour. I had him on board within a day."

In "Fratello" ("brother"), he plays the stepfather of Garilli and Steve Mason, two brothers who are involved in a hit-and-run accident. "They're trying to escape town with no money, and no vehicle," Garilli says. "And it just spirals out of control."

The 65-minute film, which has a cast of some 13 people (Garilli's sister Justine also has a prominent part) and was directed by Jason King, was filmed over 16 days earlier this year in a variety of Bergen, Essex and Hudson County locations, including Rutherford, North Arlington, Belleville, Nutley, Secaucus and Kearny.

"Basically I just wanted to show my credentials as an actor," he says. "I have a lot of passion for acting and filmmaking. I wanted to do something that will challenge me."

In fact, there were challenges that Garilli, a 2005 graduate of Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, could never have anticipated.

"The last scene was me outside of a truck stop in Kearny," he says. "I was covered in fake blood. A trucker came running over to me and said, 'Are you OK?' He saw someone covered in blood and he had to get out of the car. He was flipping out."

That scene, as well as most of the rest of the movie, has little to do with Garilli's own background and inclinations. "I have two sisters, though I always wanted a brother," he says. "The story has nothing to do with my life."

Just the same, a little bit of violence is not a bad marketing ploy. Neither is the presence of a "Sopranos" star. Partly because of it, "Fratello," being screened for the home-state audience next Wednesday in Nutley, got a New York premiere in May, and could next be seen at a number of film festivals - including one in Italy.

"It helps to have some sort of [star] name on your project," Garilli says. "These festivals are very competitive."

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