The seeds for In My Brother’s Shoes, Inc. were sown in 2009 when I encountered a young American man at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. He had on shoes that were torn to shreds and proceeded to tell me that he was wearing his brother’s favorite shoes on a special pilgrimage. His brother, who wanted to backpack through Italy, was a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq. This story so moved me that, after a major transition in my life from arts writer/critic/journalist/educator to a film writer-director, I crafted a short film titled In My Brother’s Shoes in 2014 in honor of this man’s sacrifice and memory. It premiered on September 21, 2014 at the Auditorium Theatre's Ganz Hall in Chicago. The event opened with a U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and featured a concert by composer Enzo De Rosa and a Q&A with the cast and crew. The film has screened at the American University in Rome in honor of the USO; for U.S. veterans organizations; at Loyola University Chicago; Casa Italia's Film Series; the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini; the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago; Western Illinois University for Military Appreciation Week in Macomb, Ill., and more. In My Brother’s Shoes won Best Short Film at the 2015 Vatican Film Festival in Rome, and was featured in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner.
This project inspired my husband, producer Joe Orlandino, and myself to found a larger organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue and a sense of community -- through live screenings -- around our films that center on healing, resilience and human connection. In My Brother’s Shoes, Inc. also raises funds for organizations dedicated to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, cancer research & support, and humanitarian efforts. Since In My Brother’s Shoes premiered, I have written and directed three more films produced by our non-profit: One Year Later (2016) about a woman who takes a life-affirming trip to the Italian Alps one year after completing cancer treatment; Frances Xavier Cabrini: The People’s Saint (2017), a documentary honoring the great Italy-born humanitarian and patroness of immigrants who ministered to children, the poor, the sick and those in need around the world; and Voci del diario (Entries) (2020), an exploration of the life cycle through one man and his journal entries (post-production complete). We are currently in post-production for a documentary, titled I Have a Name, in collaboration with The Chicago HELP Initiative's Founder Jacqueline C. Hayes. It focuses on dignity and respect toward those experiencing homelessness in Chicago and the organizations that nourish the whole person. All of our films tour the U.S., Canada and Europe for veterans, cancer support groups, medical facilities, museums, churches, schools and more.
--Lucia Mauro, Writer-Director