Writer-Director Marc Acito’s big gamble paid off at the Queens World Film Festival. The festival recognized Acito as “Outstanding Director of a Narrative Short,” and then festival’s directors Katha and Donald Cato honored Acito’s debut film musical MAD/WOMAN with the seldom given Founder’s Choice Award. “We just had to do this,” Donald Cato said, “because of the power of the piece, the commitment of the director and actor, and how it was done.”
Acito directed singer-songwriter Storm Large remotely over Zoom from his apartment in New York City while she and a skeleton crew filmed in producers Halle and Rick Sadle’s basement in Portland, Oregon. This was June 2020, at the height of the pandemic lockdown. “You can just feel the courage and power that comes off the screen,” said Cato.
Acito made a virtue of the shoestring budget, employing the same minimalist philosophy he used onstage in his award-winning musical Bastard Jones at The Cell in 2017. The New York Times hailed Bastard Jones as “decidedly, even proudly, low-budget,” saying “Mr. Acito mostly succeeds in turning The Cell’s limited resources into an aesthetic choice.”
“That ‘mostly’ motivated me to prove I can make film musicals affordably,” Acito said, “and to hone the aesthetics. I was determined that every single frame—all 21,600 of them—could stand alone as a piece of art painted in light.”
Cato, who has screened thousands of films in his twelve years as QWFF’s Artistic Director, attested to the film’s unique vision. “It’s a piece that just needs to be seen,” he said. “It pounds you with beautiful images and sound.”
Acito is happily entering the indie film world to win friends and influence people to produce a feature film of Bastard Jones. “We were so impressed by how he threw himself into the festival,” said Katha Cato, the Queens World Executive Director. “Marc brought the fun, the passion, the crazy, the intensity and the glow everywhere he went.”
MAD/WOMAN is available to stream November 20th to December 4th at FilmFestivalFlix.com.
MARC ACITO – Homeless teens. Oppressed queers. Political prisoners. Abused women. These are the people Marc Acito returns to again and again in his work. Acito has made theater on Broadway (Allegiance); Off-Bway (adapting Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon for City Center Encores! and The Day Before Spring at the York); regionally (Chasing Rainbows at Goodspeed Musicals and Papermill Playhouse; A Room with a View at the Old Globe & 5th Ave. Theater) and internationally (The Secret for Broadway Asia; Sound of the Silk Road for Nederlander Worldwide). But his favorite was writing and directing Bastard Jones, a kooky rock adaptation of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones Off-Off Broadway at the cell. After filming the show’s music video, Acito realized the potential for digital media as the most effective means of developing new musicals. According to the Washington Post, “It’s refreshing to find a dramatist willing to take wing with such an adventurous approach to the culture wars.” People says “Acito has fantastic narrative chops.”
STORM LARGE – Self-described “genre fluid big mouth singer lover activist nerd,” Storm Large is also quite tall. An indie artist for over two decades, Large made her theatrical debut as Sally Bowles in Portland Center Stage’s Cabaret,following up with a solo autobiographical show, Crazy Enough, which she expanded to a memoir Elle magazine called “a helluva compelling story.” In addition to solo gigs with her own band, Large tours with nouveau-cocktail band Pink Martini and sings with symphony orchestras, including the Detroit Symphony at Carnegie Hall, where she performed Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. In 2021, she managed to render Simon Cowell speechless on “America’s Got Talent.”According to The Guardian, she “has a remarkable ability to convey venality and vulnerability in equal measure, and to suggest obscenity and heartbreak simultaneously.”