Big Italian family at heart of new film Promised

Daniel Berini and Antoinette Iesue in Promised.
Daniel Berini and Antoinette Iesue in Promised.

WHILE Daniel Berini’s Italian parents never shuffled him off into an arranged marriage, the WAAPA graduate could still relate to new film Promised.

“I love the way the film portrays the ‘big Italian family’ in all its vivacious glory,” Berini, who grew up in Nedlands, said.

“Family is at the centre of Promised and it’s very important to me as well. I was raised in a similarly conservative way to the character I play, Robert, and was given many of the same opportunities.

“I feel like I could have very easily been Robert were I born in that period.”

The film begins in 1953 Melbourne, where five-year-old Robert (Berini) and newborn Angela (Antoinette Iesue) are promised in marriage by their fathers Sal (Paul Mercurio) and Joe (Mirko Grillini).

Angela’s mother Rosalba (Tina Arena) has misgivings about the union, before the film picks up again in 1974 where Angela is a modern woman in love with another man and Robert has returned from studying law at Oxford.

“I loved the simplicity of the story,” Berini said.

“When I read the script for Promised, it was a breath of fresh air. It was refreshing to read something that celebrated Italian culture in Australia without poking fun at it.

“This is a love story that follows two people from two Italian families in Melbourne, but it doesn’t feature Italian clichs that are so often presented in film.”

Sydney-based Berini, who shares Robert’s love for lasagne, said it had been a “hoot” to work with Iesue after she had studied a couple of years ahead of him at WAAPA.

“When I was flown to Melbourne for the final audition, they told me that they had flown over an actress from LA as well,” he said.

“I was brought into a room to meet her when I got there and it turned out to be Antoinette.

“I had no idea she had moved to LA, so it was a surprise to see her there at first but I was also relieved. It is great to work with someone you know, as you have this shared history to draw upon to connect quickly in a scene.”

Berini’s positive experience on set extended to working with Arena and Mercurio too.

“Despite this being Tina’s maiden foray into film, her 40-plus year career in the entertainment industry brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to set,” he said.

“Tina and Paul are both so disciplined and talented; it was wonderful to work alongside them and be guided and inspired by their skill.”

Promised premieres as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival from October 2 to 23 before opening nationally on October 24.

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