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Friday, August 1, 2014

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An edgy Italian-Jewish farce

Tags: Arts
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Gino Cafarelli, rear, and Michael Pillarella in Pizza Bagel

Pizza Bagel, one of the offerings at this week’s inaugural Italian Contemporary Film Festival, is an edgy Italian-Jewish farce turning on the pitfalls of cross-religious dating.

Joe Mari’s short, scheduled to be screened on Sunday, July 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre, is seriously funny. Tommy (Michael Pillarella), a young Canadian of Italian descent, has invited his Jewish girlfriend, Rebecca (Alona Metzer), to his father’s house for supper, and he’s a nervous wreck as he anticipates her imminent arrival.

Tommy’s father, Dominic (Gino Cafarelli), a gruff restaurateur, is eager to please his son by cooking a first-class meal for Rebecca and her mother. But when Dominic opens his fridge, Tommy is mortified to find a profusion of pork products inside.

“They can’t eat pork,” he exclaims in exasperation. “They’re Jewish!”

No problem, Dominic assures Tommy, saying he will fix things. Tommy proceeds to give him a shopping list of acceptable food he can buy for the occasion. But in a riposte, Dominic admonishes him not to be ashamed of his Italian background.

With tensions rising, Pizza Bagel segues to a scene in which Rebecca and her brash mother (Carla Collins) get into a late-model silver BMW for the drive over to Tommy’s place.

In preparation for their visit, Dominic has decorated the house with Israeli and Italian flags and soccer motifs. More importantly, he has slapped together a number of suitable dishes, including pizza bagels. The question, of course, is whether the dinner will be a success.

Pizza Bagel, with witty performances from its cast, is a sardonic romp into the perils and joys of intercultural dating.

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