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Abigail Ainsworth directs 'Famiglia' - A Short Film on the Baldessarre Family Pasta Business

07/11/2019
Production Company
Toronto, Canada
206
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Abby explores the relationship between one family and their love of pasta

What began as one woman’s love for the Famiglia Baldessarre handmade pasta (particularly the ravioli with ragu), turned into a short film about the love between grandson and grandmother, tradition passed down from one generation to the next.

In Famiglia, the short directed by Abigail Ainsworth and produced by Butternut Productions and Sequoia Content, we are given a glimpse into the restaurant that has disrupted Toronto’s pasta scene, and into the family behind it. When Abigail first started going to Baldassarre, she’d listen to the colourful stories from owner Leo Baldessarre about his Nonna.


“When she’d wipe my face with a napkin, the strong smell of onion and garlic radiated from her fingers. The pasta making all happened in the basement. A low ceiling, wall to wall with mosaic tiles. My Nonno dug the basement out himself in the 60’s. There was the cantina where the wine, tomatoes, peppers, prosciutto and salami were made and my Nonno’s workshop where he tinkered feverishly, and packed (and smoked) his own cigarettes”

These stories became the inspiration for Abby to show the thought and love behind the food. “The way he talked about his Nonna with so much adoration and affection reminded me of my Jewish grandmother”, says Abby. “She too put so much love and care into each meal she made for us. I found that Leo's approach to food was similar to my approach to film - 100% based on the deeper meaning and sensations derived from stories that make you want more.”

Grandson Leo Baldessarre remakes his Nonna’s recipe every day, to be distributed around the city and enjoyed at some of Toronto’s best Italian restaurants. More than just showcasing the food, Abby sought to explore the relationship between Leo and his Nonna, with recorded phone calls between them playing as voiceover. “Leo’s Nonna Francesca, now in her 90’s, lives in Montreal so they’re not able to see each other often but frequently talk on the phone. I thought tapping into their phone conversation would be an authentic way to paint a picture of their relationship, without being able to see them both together” Abby explains.

Famiglia recently played in Toronto alongside her documentary feature, Stage. In the film, pronounced “stajh” (taken from the French word for ‘trainee’), Abby explores the cooking internships in top kitchens, and the sacrifices and growth that come with it. Stage continues it’s festival circuit, playing next at the Napa Valley Film Fest. 


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