In October of 2003 I made a serendipitous trip to Rome to interview Monsignor Robert Sarno, an Official with the Congregazione Delle Causi Dei Santi at the Vatican. Being able to speak with the right person regarding Dorothy’s canonization process was such an important gift for the film. So you know, it’s not the Vatican that makes saints, it’s ‘we the people’ that bring the Cause to them.
I ended the interview with a celebratory supper of Penne alla Vodka at a restaurant I had spied near my hotel - Val di Sangro's cucina did not disappoint. Italy’s delectable food and the generous spirit of its people are beyond definition. The ancient ruins - some seen by way of a Vespa... the architecture, the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, were glorious. I walked miles in this wondrous city, often covering ground where I knew Dorothy’s foot had once tread while attending the Second Vatican Council.
My friends (as well as Dorothy’s) encouraged me on this formidable adventure. I knew neither the topic nor the language well, and I had hired the cameraman, Massimo, long distance. In the end, faith prevailed and all went well.
Grazie Roma, arrivederci...
After 14 years in the making, it was triumph enough just to finish the film, but to then be invited to the Tribeca Film Festival and to have Dorothy’s image projected onto the Big Screen was an honor that brought me to tears.
I stuck up flyers in neighborhoods known to Dorothy: Chinatown… Little Italy… Lower Manhattan - one on a light pole on Kenmare St. where Dorothy had once lived. I sat in parks where she sat in protest during the Civil Defense Drills. My New York experience was surreal and often emotional - my hotel was just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.
The last night of the festival was the awards party in Chinatown. All the hard efforts of the volunteers, the staffers, the founders and fellow filmmakers, were applauded and celebrated. Through the crowd I spotted Albert Maysles, the great documentarian. We had met years earlier and he remained supportive of my endeavor. He kissed my forehead and said “Dorothy Day, I love that woman!”
Being included in the ultimate New York City party (The Tribeca Film Festival), to have Albert Maysles anoint my forehead... to have friends fly in... to have a premiere party at Elaine's... to have cameraman Sam Shinn and editor Alejandro Valdes-Rochin present... to have those who knew Dorothy Day in the audiences, was all beyond my wildest dreams.
Thank you Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff (Founders of the Tribeca Film Festival)
My little blind chihuahua, Lola, is such a good sport and a fun traveling companion. We have had many a road trip together, and this is our latest...
On September 19th, 2015, the Sheen Center honored Dorothy Day with discussions and a screening of my film. Among those in attendance were Dorothy’s close friends Kathleen and Patrick Jordan (one of my interviewees), and Phil Runkel (Dorothy’s archivist at Marquette University, for whom this film could not have been made).
Lola and I flew in days earlier to explore the Lower East Side - Dorothy’s stomping grounds and Chinatown in particular. Our hotel faced the Manhattan Bridge where Chrystie and Canal streets meet. When Dorothy came to Manhattan at 19 to start her journalism career, she lived beneath this magnificent bridge on Cherry Street. Her House’s of Hospitality were on the LES - the current houses: St Joseph’s and Maryhouse, are just across Houston Street and off the Bowery. Jane Sammon, Maryhouse’s loyal guardian, gave Lola an impromptu serenade.
It’s safe to say, I felt Dorothy’s vibe. I, too, was drawn in by this neighborhood’s unique appeal - it attracted her in 1917 and it is where she remained till her death in 1980.
This trip felt like a wink from Dorothy... Manhattan had once been my home and I had not been back since the film’s Tribeca Festival debut 10 years ago...
Thank you Dorothy