Columbus on Trial

Jul 09, 2020 213

Film Screening & Discussion hosted by The Calandra Institute on Zoom Monday, July 27, 2020 at 4 p.m.. Event registration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please click on link below to reserve your spot: 

With the tragic murder of George Floyd by police and the justifiable protests against racism, historic figures including explorer Christopher Columbus are under renewed scrutiny for their place on monuments and more.

Emmy-nominated, award winning, social justice filmmakers Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno’s soon-to-be released short films on Columbus use primary source materials to present a balance portrait of the man, his mission, and legacy. Join the Zoom screening of the documentary Prologue and preview clips of the fictional Columbus on Trial, introduced by the filmmakers and Broadway actor Robert Cuccioli.

The Calandra Institute’s Dean Anthony Julian Tamburri will moderate a discussion with scholars Dr. Leslie Wilson and Dr. Fred Gardaphe, followed by audience Q&A.

COLUMBUS ON TRIAL Prologue documentary (16 minutes)
Preview Clips of COLUMBUS ON TRIAL fiction film (27 minutes)

“We all think we know Columbus. The Bongiornos have created a very provocative film that brings us closer to the historical Columbus and his legacy. It challenges how we view historical figures and how we should view them. The film puts history on trial and forces you to learn your history!” Dr. Leslie Wilson, historian

Columbus on Trial fiction film synopsis: When the ghost of 15th century Genovese explorer Christopher Columbus was interrogated by the ghost of 18th century American political activist Elizabeth Willing Powel (a confidante of President George Washington), they had a 21st century argument over controversies surrounding Columbus's Discovery of the New World. This is what happened.

Prologue documentary helps understand the times that Columbus was living in.

The Cast:

• Robert Cuccioli is a TONY nominated and multiple award-winning actor for his critically acclaimed performance in the title roles of the Broadway hit JEKYLL & HYDE. His work spans over 35 years of Broadway/Off-Broadway and Regional stages, television and screen. Robert is also an acclaimed theatre director.

• Sophie Sorensen is a New York based actor. She was raised in the English countryside and Stockholm, Sweden. Before moving to NYC, she worked as a Registered Nurse and studied shaman healing. Sophie is the voice of the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.

The Filmmakers:

Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno are husband and wife, Emmy-nominated, award- winning, social justice filmmakers. They create critically-acclaimed fiction, documentary and museum installation art films that are widely distributed in theaters, on national PBS, cable, and foreign television, in museums and film festivals. Columbus on Trial is the second film in their series of historical shorts where iconic figures return as ghosts to hash out their legacies.

To learn more:

Filmmakers’ Statement: “Don’t make judgments on Christopher Columbus until you’ve read the primary sources.”


Columbus on Trial received a film grant from The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum. The Filmmakers wish to thank: Columbus Citizens Foundation, National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA), Russo Brothers, Francesco & Mary Giambelli Foundation, New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission (NJIHC), Commission for Social Justice, OSDIA, Coccia Foundation, Italian Heritage and Culture Committee-NY, Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

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