The short film follows lead character Zef Celaj, who is serving 25 years in prison for a crime that his brother, Martin, committed. After discovering that Martin committed suicide, Zef returns home to his Bronx neighborhood to deliver a eulogy at his wake. The film tells a story of brotherhood and integrity while also offering a look into the tight-knit Albanian community.
For Capria, the story didn’t intentionally begin with any specific ethnic community in mind, but rather developed through a series of “what if” situations. The film is based off a 1950s news story that he briefly heard about from friends. The story intrigued him and he decided to develop little possibilities, such as a pregnant wife and a brother with a gambling problem, within the scheme of the plot.
“It’s about a man who was willing to do something extraordinary to help the life of another person and it’s the ultimate sacrifice,” Capria said. “There are times in your life where you can do something and save somebody, it has nothing to do with what’s right or wrong, but it has to do with people’s personal choices.”
The film depicts Zef as someone who didn’t really have much going on, while Martin had a wife and child to look after. Martin made a mistake and Zef saved him by going to prison for him. “What would you do if you were sitting in prison for a crime and the person who did it is actually dead now?” Capria explored the heavy question throughout the film.
Fitting the complex story into a short film was quite challenging, he admitted. Whereas Capria had prior experience in filming a television pilot with a 55-minute format, the runtime of “Eulogy” is a mere 13 minutes. The original script for “Eulogy” ran long at 19 minutes, and editing it down taught him a few filmmaking lessons.
“You’re starving a little as you’re trying to direct, edit and put it altogether to tell the story the way you want,” he said. “It’s a real difficult task to take something from your brain, put it on the screen and have it fit exactly the way you see it.”
So far, “Eulogy” has already received high praises. The QWFF awarded the entire cast, including former “Sopranos” actor Federico Castelluccio, with a best actor nomination for a short narrative.
Originally from Westchester, Capria moved to New York after high school. He’s been living in Astoria for years and found that the area’s artistic community is supportive of writers and filmmakers. So much so that it’s unnecessary to be in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. “It’s filled with good energy and there are a lot of great coffee shops where you could visit with your pad and your pen to do some writing,” he said.
The QWFF kicked off on March 17 and concludes on March 22. “Eulogy” will screen at 8 p.m. on March 20 at The Secret Theater, 4402 23rd St., Long Island City. Tickets can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com.