The young man that Lucia Mauro met in St. Peter’s Square in Rome in 2009 wore shoes that didn’t fit and were torn to shreds. Mauro, a Chicago arts critic, learned that the shoes had belonged to the man’s brother, a Marine killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
The man was carrying out his brother’s unfulfilled dream to backpack across Italy.
“When I met this young man, I became so emotional from the honesty and profundity of his gesture to honor his brother,” Mauro says.
She never heard from this man again. But years later, after recovering from a health scare, “I was determined to make a film that quietly spoke to anyone experiencing hardship or loss and the need to move on,” Mauro says.
Mauro turned that encounter into the 25-minute short In My Brother’s Shoes, which has a special benefit screening Sept. 21 at the Auditorium Theatre in advance of its festival run.
For her directorial debut, Mauro cast theater veteran Danny McCarthy. “I had Danny McCarthy in mind from the beginning and wrote the lead role for him,” Mauro says. “The character, also named Danny, is a very sweet and empathetic Everyman.”
Mauro produced with her husband, Joe Orlandino, through their Atlas Media Group, and they formed a nonprofit and partnered with Pritzker Military Museum to receive the donations.
Filmed in Rome, a “central character” in the film
A coproduction with Polymyth Productions, Mauro
filmed in Chicago and in Rome with Polymyth’s DP Derek Cox, line producer Dan Finnen, and sound mixer Carter Lodwick. Cox and Lodwick completed the edit on Sept. 12.
Mauro says Rome is a “second home” for her, and a central character in In My Brother’s Shoes. She’s been visiting since she studied there in the ‘80s as a grad student at Loyola University’s Rome Center, has written about Italian history and culture, and published two books of photos taken there.
Mauro and Orlandino are developing the feature Anita, a fictional account of the meeting of two historical women, Brazilian revolutionary Anita Garibaldi and journalist Margaret Fuller, during the 1849 Siege of Rome. Filming is slated for Sardinia, Italy.
My Brother’s Shoes screens Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. at the Auditorium Theatre’s Ganz Memorial Hall, 430 S. Michigan Ave., 7th Floor. Buy tickets here or by phone at 800.982.ARTS (2787).