Face Painters is a dual narrative, multi-generational epic set in two eras in the lives of the Gravetti family.
The present is 1963 Brooklyn. Luca is losing his battle with dementia, and Buono, a masterful casket maker and full-blown illiterate, must juggle both the family’s ailing funeral home and his dear father. When bills start piling up and the hearse is repossessed, Buono succumbs and reluctantly brings in his estranged brother, Michael—with all the smarts of a Wall Street whiz kid, but plagued by booze and racist dogma. The two immediately clash over how best to run the business—by Buono’s traditional ways, or with Michael’s modern-day vanity of profits above all. Meanwhile, an infamous event triggers one last memory in Luca, setting him off on a journey of love and redemption.
The past is 1928 Tuscany. Buono reminisces about his childhood, and his family’s last days before immigrating to America. Luca finds a chance to finally gain his father’s respect by rebuilding a chapel for the impoverished peasants, but when a scheming bishop demands even more, a local strong-arm is rebuffed. Luca disregards his family’s dire warnings, seduced by the praise of the villagers and ignoring the ominous powers heading their way. This culminates in one of the most traumatic experiences Buono can remember as a child, a life-changing event that makes him and his family an even greater target for revenge and catapults him to manhood well beyond his grasp.