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The True Legend of Tony Vilar

A bouncy mockumentary road trip bursting with larger-than-life characters, "The True Legend of Tony Vilar" traces a real Italian-born pop star from his Latin American heyday to obscurity as a used car salesman in Brooklyn. More a warmhearted, tongue-in-cheek look at the Italian diaspora than a study in lost fame, pic blurs the line between fact and fiction, reveling in its stereotyped figures and trusting the terrific music to set the tone. Helmer Giuseppe Gagliardi didn't make much of a dent at the local B.O., but fest auds are the ideal consumers.

With:
With: Peppe Voltarelli, Tony Vilar, Totonno Chiappetta, Cristina Mantis, Dario De Luca, Saverio La Ruina, Tony Pizza, Roy Paci, Mabel Lando, Antonio Guaron.

A bouncy mockumentary road trip bursting with larger-than-life characters, “The True Legend of Tony Vilar” traces a real Italian-born pop star from his Latin American heyday to obscurity as a used car salesman in Brooklyn. More a warmhearted, tongue-in-cheek look at the Italian diaspora than a study in lost fame, pic blurs the line between fact and fiction, reveling in its stereotyped figures and trusting the terrific music to set the tone. Helmer Giuseppe Gagliardi didn’t make much of a dent at the local B.O., but fest auds are the ideal consumers.

In the 1960s, Italian emigre Antonio Ragusa found megafame on the Argentine hit parade as Tony Vilar, but when a fan pulled off his toupee, the humiliation was too much, and he disappeared from the scene. Enter Peppe Voltarelli, a singer styled like a 1970s hood, determined to track the elusive Vilar down. Starting in Buenos Aires and continuing to “Sopranos” land, Gagliardi builds a picture not just of Vilar’s life and music but Italian communities abroad with their emphasis on food, family, and Guido bling. Energetic editing keeps pace with the colorful tunes.

The True Legend of Tony Vilar

Italy

Production: A TICO Film Co., Avocado Pictures production. (International sales: Rai Trade, Rome.) Produced by Sarah Pennacchi, Gino Pennacchi, Andrea Kerkoc. Executive producer, TICO. Directed by Giuseppe Gagliardi. Screenplay by Gagliardi, Peppe Voltarelli.

Crew: Camera (color, DV, super 16-to-35mm), Michele Paradisi; editor, Gianluca Stuard; music, Tony Vilar, Voltarelli; art director, Davide Clementi; costume designer, Francesca Tocci. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Encounters), May 2, 2007. (Also in Rome Film Festival). Original title: La vera leggenda di Tony Vilar. Italian, Spanish, English dialogue. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Peppe Voltarelli, Tony Vilar, Totonno Chiappetta, Cristina Mantis, Dario De Luca, Saverio La Ruina, Tony Pizza, Roy Paci, Mabel Lando, Antonio Guaron.

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