Thursday, November 03, 2011


2008, Ireland, directed by Nino Tropiano

A compelling documentary on what might seem a small phenomenon, the Italian chip shop owners of Ireland, Nino Tropiano's film nicely opens links to much bigger questions of emigration and integration, with many of his subjects remaining far more connected to their ancestral villages in Casalattico, in the interior of the Italian peninsula, than to their new home. Although the film doesn't explore the theme to any great extent, it also functions an interesting corrective to the idea that Ireland was only a place to emigrate from; clearly, for some, the grass was greener there than in their home countries.

The film doesn't claim to tell the full story of the Irish chipper - there's no mention of Beshoff's or Burdock's, two of the most famous of Dublin chippers, both founded by Russian immigrants - but it fleshes out the extremely tough realities behind an order of post-pub chips, and the challenges of passing along a family business at a time of great change in Irish society (where "authentic Irish-Italian" chippers are increasingly staffed by new migrants from neither of those countries). Chippers is also something of a tribute to the efforts of Barbi Borza, very much the centre of Ireland's Italian community for many years, and an enthusiastic amateur historian; it's through his good offices that Tropiano gets his access to the community, though the corpulent Borza, no great advert for the virtues of chipper food, sadly passed away in early 2007 before the film was released. Perhaps appropriately, though, he was on his home turf of Casalattico at the end of his life.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States