Exhibit guide from Italian American Cinema: From Capra to the Coppolas. The American cinema, from its inception, has played a major role in shaping our perceptions of our country and ourselves, and impacting the way that other countries perceive us as well. American movies were multiethnic from the beginning, made initially for largely working-class and often immigrant audiences and shaped by filmmakers strongly identified with their ethnic groups. Italian Americans have long been one of the most important and influential groups represented onscreen, and many major filmmakers and stars have been Italian American. In such films from the heartwarming Rocky and Marty to the chilling Godfather trilogy and Raging Bull, their work has both reflected the Italian American experience in the United States and shaped society’s perceptions – and sometimes misperceptions – of this ethnic group’s identity. The 2015–2016 documentary exhibit Italian American Cinema: From Capra to the Coppolas provided visitors with a greater appreciation of the rich contributions made by Italian Americans to national cinema.
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