Texas Tavola

A Taste of Sicily in the Lone Star State

A documentary film available on DVD

To order please contact circe ["at"] austin.utexas.edu

Or view for free at Folkstreams.net

thanks to everyone for their interest in our film...for info about getting a copy of the film, transcripts, or the filmmakers, please scroll down.

About the film. This 34 minute documentary examines the Tavola di San Giuseppe, an important religious event at which a single Sicilian-American family hosts almost 1,000 guests in honor of St. Joseph. Both anthropologically and visually, the event is remarkable to witness, with hundreds of hand-made breads and cakes, elaborate religious rituals, and beautiful prayers spoken in Sicilian dialect with a Texas accent! Our film traces one particular tavola back to three small villages in Western Sicily—Poggioreale, Salaparuta, and Corelone. With rare historic photos and traditional Sicilian music complementing the video footage, it explores the tavola’s deep importance to Sicilian-American communities in East Texas. These communities have often been overlooked as part of the Italian-American experience, but their vibrancy and a sense of Italianità remain strong even after three generations in the Lone Star state.

Reviews. "This brilliant, insightful documentary follows the progress of the Tavola's making over a three-week period, intercutting scenes and interviews, with a brief return to Sicily... Documentary at its best." ---- John Paul Russo, University of MIami, in Italian Americana Cultural and Historical Review 

"A fascinating account of St. Joseph Day celebrations among Sicilian-Americans in Bryan, Texas... deserves wide exposure." --- George De Stefano, i-Italy.com

News. Texas Tavola has recently been subtitled in Italian and we hope this will facilitate more screenings in Italy. Our film has also been the subject of an Italian graduate student's master's thesis under the supervision of one of the great American Studies scholars of Italy -- Dr. Federico Siniscalco at the University of Sienna. Thanks to Fede for his interest in the film.

About the filmmakers. Co-producers: Circe Sturm and Randolph Lewis. A native Texan born and raised in Houston, Circe Sturm is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her co-producer, Randolph Lewis, is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Our DVD available at low cost for educational use by contacting Circe or Randy. 

How to Get a Copy. You may watch the film for free at Folkstreams.net. Folkstreams is a national preserve of documentary films about American roots cultures. We are grateful to have their support but do not wish to overtax their staff, so please do not contact Folkstreams for DVD copies. Please contact Circe: circe "at" austin.utexas.edu  ("at" = @)  

Further Reading.  Kay Turner and Suzanne Seriff, " 'Giving an Altar': The Ideology of Reproduction in a St. Joseph's Day Feast," Journal of American Folklore 100 (1987), 446-460; Ethelyn Gay Orso. The St. Joseph Altar Traditions of South Louisiana, Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1990

Looking for a Transcript? Please contact us.



Italian American Historical Association, Denver CO, November 2007

Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, Norman OK, November 2007

Conference on Race, Gender, and SexualityUniversity of Vermont, Burlington VT, February 2008

University of Oklahoma Honors College "Dinner with the Dean" screening + lecture, April 2008

EtnoFilm '08, Comune di Scicli, Sicily, Italy, August 13, 2008

American Anthropological Association Annual Conference (official selection), November 2008, San Francisco

John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, New York City, March 2009.

The Calandra Institute screening, along with a Q+A with the filmmakers, was broadcast on Channel 75 in New York City (CUNY TV, channel 75, is a cable channel serving the five boroughs of New York City with educational, cultural and public affairs programs).

And many classrooms across the US...

Updated: April 2010