A couple of weeks ago, I attended a showing of the documentary film 'Pane Amaro' (Bitter Bread) at the Italian American Heritage Foundation in San Jose. There I was honored to have met Gianfranco Norelli and Suma Kurien the co-producers of the film. They did an extra-ordinary job in making this historical documentary. I congratulate them in this endeavor and also on their continuing effort to bring the true story of the Italian immigration to this country, to the English speaking audience. ('Pane Amaro' was originally done in Italian, however, this version was done in English.)
As described in the IAHF Newsletter, "The film is hard hitting" and takes an intense and ultimately inspiring look at the Italian immigrant experience from about the 1880' through the post WWII years. Covered too (is) the era known in US history as the "great migration" of
millions of Eastern and Southern Europeans to America's shore. "
Although the experiences described in the film were not unique to the Italian migration (the Irish, Germans, Poles, etc., had to endure similar difficulties), it set my mind to thinking as to what the first Thanksgiving in a Foreign Land must have been for these immigrants. Away from family and friends, not knowing the language and with little money in their pockets, and facing deep seated prejudices against them, these brave souls set out to establish a new life for themselves and their families. I wonder if they even celebrated their first Thanksgiving. As the film depicts, these new 'Americanos' had to eat many slices of 'Bitter Bread' before they could be thankful for the 'better' life that they eventually realized.
For us, the first, second, third, etc., generations of these immigrants, we give thanks today for their courage, tenacity, inspiration and love. It is because of them that we do not have to eat "Pane Amaro" this Thanksgiving.
Ivano Franco Comelli
"Major funding for PANE AMARO was provided by the National Italian American Foundation and the Foreign Ministry of Italy"