The latest collaboration from Director/Producer Joseph Puleo and Executive Producer Rio Vitale, debuted this past summer where the filmmaking team once again achieved unprecedented success. Their showing was the most attended film as part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase and took home both Best Documentary & Best Sound (Documentary).
A coveted feature screening slot at the 31st St. Louis International Film Festival also provided local theater-goers an encore viewing opportunity this past November.
“I greatly admire the way Joseph Puleo shows our city and our civic heritage in cinematic love letters to St. Louis, highlighting ethnicities that have made a vital and lasting impact on the place we all call home,” explains Cinema St. Louis Artistic Director Chris Clark. “His films are perfectly crafted, well-oiled machines that always draw a crowd due in no small part to his endless drive and passion to promote both his own work and the events themselves.”
In a follow up to America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill, the duos new film examines the story of Bosnian War refugees fleeing to St. Louis, Missouri, 30 years ago. As the war in Ukraine continues to rage and thousands of its citizens are displaced and seeking new homes, the plight of the Bosnians remains as relevant as ever.
When Bosnians fled their homes to escape the war in 1992, many ended up in St. Louis, largely because of its affordable housing and available jobs. The new arrivals began assimilating, starting their own businesses and transforming a once dilapidated South City neighborhood in the shadow of the Bevo Mill into a thriving “Little Bosnia.” Over the ensuing three decades, an estimated 70,000 Bosnians have migrated to St. Louis, making it the most inhabited area for Bosnians outside of Bosnia itself. A New Home tells the story of these refugees’ perseverance and determination to not only start life over but prosper.
Pre-production on A New Home began in the spring of 2021 with hours of VHS footage and more than a thousand photographs generously donated to the project to utilize during the editing process. The film also includes interviews with luminaries including Patrick McCarthy, author of After the Fall: Srebrenica Survivors in St. Louis; Ben Moore, Senior Researcher at the Center for Bosnian Studies; Anna Crosslin, past president of the International Institute of St. Louis; former Missouri congressman Russ Carnahan; and Doug Moore, a former journalist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as 5 Bosnian War survivors and refugees.
“A New Home is a fascinating documentary that I highly recommend,” states former Mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay, who is also featured in the film. “I hope everyone in the St. Louis area gets a chance to watch and not only be entertained but learn about their Bosnian neighbors’ struggle for safety and freedom and the lasting impact they have had on our entire region.”
“This documentary was a complete labor of love,” said Puleo. “To be trusted with telling the harrowing and triumphant story of the Bosnians in St. Louis was not a responsibility that I took lightly and their courageous resolve inspired me to give this film all I could give. The audience response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we cannot wait for more people to get the opportunity to see A New Home through Amazon’s portal.”
About The Creators:
Joseph Puleo, Director/Producer
Joseph Puleo was born on July 13, 1992, in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Lindenwood University and graduated from their school of film in 2014. His short film, Top Son (2016) was a Top 5 finalist in Kevin Hart’s LOL Network “Eat My Shorts Competition” where it screened at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal. His debut feature-length documentary, America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill (2020) was shown on PBS stations across the country and received multiple awards.
Rio Vitale, Executive Producer
Rio Vitale was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has 40 years of experience in the financial brokerage industry. In 2014, Vitale published his first book, St. Louis’s The Hill. In 2016, he was knighted by the Italian government for his extensive work in the Italian community. In 2020, Vitale began a new venture into film production, executive producing the award-winning feature-length documentary, America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill.
To read the “Take Ten with Joey Puleo,” click here:
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.