Lightbox Film Center Restores, Screens ‘Household Saints’

October 4, 2023

Based on Francine Prose’s fifth novel, Nancy Savoca’s comic chronicle of a spirited Italian-American New York family, Household Saints, has been digitally restored and remastered by Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts, Philadelphia, in collaboration with Milestone Films, with support from Ron and Suzanne Naples.

The film perfectly balances humor, tragedy, and pathos. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Joseph Santangelo is a butcher with a wicked sense of humor who “wins” his wife, Catherine (an uncharacteristically reserved Tracey Ullman), in a pinochle game. Together they experience the ups, downs, and wacky in-betweens of city life until teenage daughter Teresa slowly takes over the film with her yearning to join a convent. 

Perfectly embodying a modern-day Bernadette, Lili Taylor imbues Teresa with a mix of dedicated innocence and naïveté. Executive produced by Jonathan Demme, with notable appearances from Michael Imperioli and Judith Malina, among others, Household Saints announced a unique voice in 1990s New York City independent filmmaking. 

Nancy Savoca’s other films include True Love (1989), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival; Dogfight (1991), starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor; The 24 Hour Woman (1999), which also premiered at Sundance; and Dirt (2003), among many other films, as well as TV series and episodes.

Lightbox’s restoration project is funded by Ron and Suzanne Naples, who seek to elevate film at UArts. Other films restored by Lightbox include Wayne Wang’s film Life is Cheap.. But Toilet Paper is Expensive (1989) and The Innerview (1973), an avant-garde documentary by Richard Bremer. 

Ross Lipman of Corpus Fluxus was Household Saints’ restoration supervisor; Illuminate Hollywood executed picture restoration; and Audio Mechanics restored the sound.

A screening of the restored version will be screened by Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Nancy Savoca, director, and Richard Guay, producer.