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 told me 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 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 in September 2014 at the Auditorium Theatre's Ganz Hall in Chicago. The event opened with a U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard & featured a concert by composer Enzo De Rosa, and a Q&A with the cast & 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; at the Veterans Community Center in Hayward, Wis., & 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 me 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 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. Our documentary, I Have a Name (2020) -- co-produced by IMBS and The Chicago HELP Initiative -- won Best Documentary at the 2020 Vatican Film Festival in Rome and the Silver Award at the 2020 Spotlight Documentary Film Festival in Atlanta. It focuses on dignity & respect toward those experiencing homelessness in Chicago & the organizations that nourish the whole person. In Summer 2021, I completed production on my documentary, The Loneliest Road, about the multiethnic communities that shaped the American West -- inspired by Silvio Manno's book, Charcoal and Blood, about a little-known 1879 massacre of Italian-immigrant charcoal burners striking for better wages on the burgeoning mining frontier. In Fall 2022, I wrapped production on the documentary, Ovarian Cancer & Early Detection: The Story of a Northwoods Community Making a Difference, which celebrates the work of Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness toward finding an early-detection test via a unique collaboration with Penn Vet's Canine Scent Detection Program.
All of our films tour the U.S., Canada and Europe for veterans, cancer support groups, medical facilities, museums, churches, schools and more. Since Covid-19, we also present online showings.
--Lucia Mauro, Writer-Director