Bless Me Father
New Jersey's Film of the Year!
May 16th, 2023 - “Bless Me Father” is now available on Prime Video as part of the Prime Video Direct Content Submission Portal in the United States & United Kingdom.
New Jersey local filmmakers, Milly-May & Gianni McLaughlin, debut their award winning feature film,
“Bless Me Father". The movie is a raw crime drama-thriller depicting the mob, the Catholic Church and family life in New Jersey. The production is 100% New Jersey, using Hudson County locals and being filmed entirely in the state of New jersey.
Synopsis- Vinny Dapello confesses his sins and unveils the ugly truth of his life; he is a hitman for the New Jersey Italian mob. Will he follow his father's footsteps in the organized crime family or sacrifice his life to save his soul?
Mission Statement - “Bless Me Father” was made to show the dark side of a gangster's life; not the glorified part like most films focus on, but the pain and suffering that really comes with the lifestyle. Exposing the stark reality of what living the "thug life" really means.
The journey began when Gianni and Milly-May met backstage on the first day of rehearsal for off-Broadway play “D.O.A.” (Dead On Arrival). It was love at first sight. A young man from Hoboken and a young woman from East London bound together by the passion for storytelling. A short five months later the two got married and anticipated a lavish destination wedding celebration in August 2020 which of course was canceled due to Covid-19. Before the disappointment could settle in, Milly-May suggested that they take the money saved from not having a wedding and make the movie “Bless Me Father”, a screenplay Gianni had written three years earlier. The couple took the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and got right to work, starting the production of “Bless Me Father” in the summer of 2020. The six week production served as an outlet for all the cast and crew members. A sense of community was created on the set when the world had shut down around it.
"Creating art was the defense from the offenses we endured during the COVID-19 pandemic.” - Gianni McLaughlin
The young couple's passion and defiance isn’t the only interesting aspect of this story. What makes this film unique is the local New Jersey cast members and iconic New York City scenery, from the NJ waterfront, featured throughout the picture. Being heavily influenced by legendary Italian & French neorealist film directors Antonioni, Fellini, and Truffaut, Gianni & Milly-May made the bold decision to cast non actors as the principle cast members. Not only did they hire non-actors, but the entire cast were family members and friends. The mother in the film is Gianni's mother, Yolanda Cuomo, a graphic designer, who recently designed Pete Souza's "Obama : An Intimate Portrait" , the presidential photography book. The priest in the film, Joseph McLaughlin, college professor at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City for over 40 years, is Gianni’s father and it wasn’t the first time Gianni had to confess his wrong doings to him. The grandfather in the film is Gianni’s grandfather, John Cuomo, the original owner of Cuomo's Deli in North Bergen. John started his Mozzarella making days at Fiore's Deli in Hoboken in the 1960's, he is now 97 years old, and the story his character tells in the movie about arriving in America with $15 in his pocket is a true story. Giacomo Vanacore, owner of La Sorrentina restaurant in North Bergen, who plays Antonio is Gianni’s godbrother because John Cuomo is Giacomo’s godfather. Gino and Nino, whose real names are Bekim and Betim, are brothers that Gianni met while playing football in college at Rutgers University & Kean University. The production was a family affair and a labor of love from start to finish. A group of family & friends from Hudson County came together in their native home towns and created the fictional story of “Bless Me Father”.
“Some want a white dress and big wedding, and others want to move to New Jersey and make Italian mobster movies! The best part is that everyone who was going to come to our wedding became a part of the cast instead. We could have had one big night but instead we celebrated every day for 6 weeks on set! Everyone who was a part of making this film will forever be in my heart for making my wedding dreams come true!” - Milly-May McLaughlin