William F. DiPietra Project Finishing Grant Winners (2020)
Sho Akita, MA
(Long Island University Media Arts Alumnus)
Sho's project is a short, experimental documentary about the Japanese artist Teiji Furuhashi and his time spent in New York City during the 80's and 90's. NYC was his inspiration, a place where he could be out as a gay man, but also where he contracted HIV. Furuhashi is well-known, especially in Japan, and his solo work, LOVERS, is part of the MoMa's permanent collection. Sho's documentary will focus on the missing piece of Furuhashi's narrative, his life in NYC, while telling a story from the AIDS epidemic, an epidemic which many of today's young people know only as an abstract idea. (Late 2020)
Maria Palacio, MFA
(Long Island University Media Arts Alumnus)
"Pay it Forward in Death" is a 4-episode thriller and web-based series. It is about three young women living in NYC who have suffered trauma inflicted by others. The series forces us to question if the victim becomes a victimizer, if victims are justified in their retaliation, and if traumatized people who band together create empower-
ment or toxicity. "Pay it Forward in Death" is meant to entertain with the suspense of each story told but also to question what it means to be a victim for too long. (October 2020)
Holy Child Jesus Teen Drama Club Grant (2019)
The Holy Child Jesus Teen Drama Club in Richmond Hill, NY presented its 40th summer production, "Newsies." The acting, singing and dancing were top-notch. The Drama Group is open to teens aged 13-19 who audition, rehearse and present a polished production in six weeks!
William F. DiPietra Foundation Donates to EMS FDNY Help Fund (2019)
The EMS FDNY Help Fund was established in 2017 after EMT Yadira Arroyo was run over by her own ambulance. The mission of the EMS Help Fund is to support EMTs and Paramedics and their families in the event of death, injury, illness or hardship.
During William's (Bill's) illness his EMS coworkers donated many months of paid time to him. We were all touched by the generosity and kindness shown by so many. Bill often said that he "hoped to do the same for others" when he returned to work. Unfortunately, he returned for only three weeks before passing away in November 2017.
Even though Bill was unable to help those who helped him, the Foundation will now do it for him. In May 2019 the William F. DiPietra Foundation made a $10,000 donation to the EMS FDNY Help Fund. This is in fulfillment of Bill's wish to help those who helped him.
St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy Drama Club Grant (2019)
The St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy Drama Club presented an adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" on March 29, 2019. The Drama Club students (Grades 5-8) wowed the audience with their costumes, singing and acting. William attended St. Elizabeth School from 1981 to 1989 and the Foundation was happy to help fund this year's production.
Kristi Gatto: The Promise: A Docuseries on Childhood Cancer (2019)
The 2019 recipient of the William F. DiPietra Media Arts Project Finishing Grant (Long Island University) is Kristi Gatto, for her documentary, “The Promise: A Docuseries on Childhood Cancer.” Kristi earned a Master’s in Film and Television Production from Long Island University and is the founder of Risk It Productions.
“I am fortunate enough that my family has never been directly impacted by childhood cancer," Kristi says. "However, that is not the case for many families around the world. Initially, I came across the childhood cancer world when I began following a 4 year old stranger on Twitter. I had not known any statistics or facts about childhood cancer and simply followed her journey. When she passed away, I was surprised at how much it had affected me.
“At that point forward, I threw myself into heavy research and was very disheartened to learn about the truths surrounding childhood cancer. I became an advocate over eight years ago and have been to many events and volunteered my services for varying organizations. I've met many people along the way, including children who have sadly lost their battle and I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever I could to spread the word about a topic that is so often ignored and pushed away because people are afraid of hearing the truth. No one wants to hear about childhood cancer until they are forced into that situation.
"We hope that ‘The Promise’ can spread this message and make change happen because children's lives depend on it.”
Kristi's documentary will premiere in September 2019.