Skip to content

Enemy Alien in Community Stories Film Festival

David Taylor

After so much focus on elections, a spotlight on community stories comes this weekend in the Community Stories Film Festival, organized by Docs in Progress and sponsored by the city of Takoma Park, Maryland. I’m excited that it features my short documentary, Enemy Alien: Italian-American in Baltimore. In the film, Frank tells about growing up in East Baltimore’s Italian-American community. His parents came to Baltimore from Sicily in the early 1900s and made a life together in the Highlandtown neighborhood.

hand tosses newspaper with headline 'War on Italy!'

Life changed for them after Pearl Harbor, when America entered World War II against the Axis powers. That meant war on Italy. Frank tells how his community faced suspicion and harassment at school and work. Factory workers from his neighborhood were charged with sabotage. Citizens were dogged by government surveillance. Italian-Americans across the country were detained or forced to relocate.

Government agents hauled away the family’s Philco radio, which Frank’s father tuned to boxing bouts on Saturday nights. They claimed that it could be used to communicate with Mussolini’s forces.

Amid the hardships, threats, and hard work, Frank’s family held close to each other and re-affirmed values that stayed with him all his life.

If you missed the festival’s short films block livestream Q&A with filmmakers, you can catch up and watch the panel discussion on Youtube here.

Community Stories Film Festival poster, with image from Enemy Alien center

Enemy Alien grew out of a long-running conversation I had with Frank about his life. See my essay for The Millions, I Know He Enjoyed Your Calls, about the sometimes shared threads between interviews and friendship. It was my honor to sit and talk with him in his home and hear his stories.

See Cork Wars for more of the story of families and entanglements in World War II.

Update: Enemy Alien went on to kudos in Best Microfilm in the Independent Shorts Awards 2021, and an Honorable Mention in the International Animation Festival in 2022.

palm leaves around

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *