International Star You Should Know: Italian Actor Pierfrancesco Diliberto

Pierfrancesco Diliberto, 43, known in Italy as Pif, is a popular Italian TV host and satirist who parlayed the distinctive irony of his TV persona into his 2013 directorial debut, “The Mafia Kills Only in Summer,” which put a romantic comedy twist on the mob movie genre. It was a hit in Italy, grossing more than $6 million, and was picked up by Distrib Films for the U.S.

PROVOCATEUR: Born in Palermo, Diliberto studied in London and then worked as an assistant to Marco Tullio Giordana on anti-Mafia drama “The Hundred Steps” in 2000. He cut his teeth on Mediaset’s provocative muckraking show “Le Iene” (The Hyenas) before creating MTV Italia’s hit investigative format “Il Testimone” (The Witness), in which he delves into eclectic topics such as Italian bodybuilding culture, love hotels in Tokyo and people whose parents were killed by La Cosa Nostra.

WARTIME ROMANCE: His new film, “In War For Love,” being shot partly in English, requires a much lighter touch. Diliberto plays Alfredo,  a New York Sicilian restaurant worker who falls in love with a girl, but to ask for her hand in marriage, he must go to Sicily. “There is just one problem,” says Diliberto. “World War II is going on.”

HISTORY LESSON: Despite the romantic angle of the new film, the director and star says it “also will examine how the Mafia permeated Italian postwar politics due to the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Though it’s an exaggeration to say the Allied forces got permission from the Cosa Nostra to disembark, “The Mafia certainly had a hand in what was going on then,” says Diliberto. “And today, we are still paying the consequences, because it allowed them to become legitimized by the government.”

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