TERRITORIO is a Neo-Western Anthology series with influences from art house revenge and action films.
The mains storyline of TERRITORIO takes place over the course of 4 days in the year 2000--but it also explores the past, ranging from the 1950s-1990s--including key figures and moments from The Bay Area's rich queer and immigrant history.
Visual and Stylistic Influences from Film:
John Carpenter's 'Assault on Precinct 13", Jeremy Saulnier's 'Blue Ruin', James Cameron's Terminator 2.
Visual and Stylistic Influences from TV:
Sally Wainright's 'Happy Valley' and Joey Soloway's 'Transparent'
30 MINUTE, 8 EPISODE, SINGLE CAMERA.
LOCATION: SAN FRANCISCO AND SANTA ROSA, CA.
It's the year 2000, and Gianluca is returning to California for the first time in years to come out to their Nonni who raised them--unaware that a dispute is brewing with a greedy land developer over the first plot of land that they bought in the US. And Gianluca’s young, temperamental mother Teresa has been raising hell about it, stoking a private war that will change their lives forever.
In 1955, my Nonno Benedetto immigrated from Genoa, Italy to the tenements of San Francisco’s North Beach. He didn’t know a word of English, and had the equivalent of a 4th grade education. He was in his 30s, starting his life over. He had fought as a democratic partisan in WW2 Italy, killing Nazis and his own fascist countrymen, from the ages of 17-21. For ten years after the war, he worked in factories during Italy’s post-war depression. Two years after immigrating to the US, he brought his wife over. Soon, they had their first child–my mother, Battistina.
My Nonno was able to “start anew” as he did because he worked for the Scavengers Protective Agency–a sanitation business founded by Italians in San Francisco in the late 1800s, and which helped facilitate the immigration and long-time employment of thousands of immigrants. In my Nonno’s era, the company was owned by George Moscone, brother of the future Mayor of San Francisco who would be killed by Dan White for his support of Harvey Milk, whom he assassinated on the same day. The Moscones and other shareholders owned large plots of land in Santa Rosa, part of Sonoma County, just an hour north of the city. For the more ambitious of their employees like my Nonno, small allocations of this land could be bought for prices well under what they would have had to spend anywhere else. It would mean the first bit of Equity for so many immigrants, and a way towards leaving the tenements and being homeowners. All it required was some extra work for the company when requested, and showing that you had what it took to be one of its leaders...
In the late 90s, a wealthy American landowner did his damndest to take my Nonni’s first property in Santa Rosa for a small fraction for what it was worth. Among the many tricks this man pulled—in the years my Nonna had been ill, he built a wall over the old, unofficial road that my Nonni used to get to it. This way, they’d be trespassing just trying to get to their own land. One day, when my Nonni went to visit, this man’s four sons surrounded them with Dirt Bikes and threatened to throw them in the river, calling them a bunch of “dumb dagos,” among other epithets. Though they were not injured, this attack was devastating to my Nonno and his pride—and a few months later, he died of a heart attack.
The battle for the land raged in court for almost a decade, with my mother carrying the brunt of that stress, while also caring for my ailing Nonna. And it only caused more division between my mother and I--who'd been at odds since I was born.
Years later, all our properties, and the land owned by this developer, would burn in the recent wildfires. Adding a tragic layer of irony and futility to all of it.
The attack and property dispute that inspired TERRITORIO serves as the story’s jumping off point—a what if scenario of a family similar to mine, who go a much different direction than we did--entertaining my most cathartic, revenge fantasy from that long, traumatic, stressful situation. But being the person I am, glorifying these actions is not my goal, but to examine them and their consequences, in the interest of finding a way to end such cycles of violence, and to determine why we will sometimes place more value in our property than in ourselves.
The Shepherd Dreams Of Anything But War
TERRITORIO: An Italian cognate of the English word: TERRITORY. "An area that an animal or person tries to control and thinks belongs to them".
Before the war made him a soldier, and before immigration made him a scavenger, and before all other titles put upon him—my Nonno was a Shepherd. And on the steep hillsides of Northern Italy, I doubt that his dreaming mind drifted off to war. “If we heal ourselves, we heal our ancestors.” But do we owe that to them, or to ourselves? Territorio takes a deep plunge into this question.
The show’s characters are fighting their way through generational wounds that keep them from appreciating the beauty and complexity of their own ancestry, and from inheriting something far more important than land. And most importantly, it asks: how does one stand up for their self and their loved ones in an oppressive world while also trying to end generational cycles of violence and abuse in their own family?
We are not built for perpetual war—our ancestors once dreamed of so much more for us.
24. Italian-American. Trans/Gender Non-Conforming. Think fashion Designer Jeremy Scoot played by Hari Nef.
Up and coming fashion designer in London--recently hired by a high fashion house. Kind, highly-intelligent, quick-witted, and scrappy. Recently married. Also--low key a skilled hunter, butcher, and fighter--skills taught by their mother, but abandoned when they left for London at 17. Uses humor as a protective armor. Suffers from panic attacks, but has developed counter mechanisms (smoking a lot of weed mostly). A second generation kid raised like a first generation kid. Confides in Charlie as a surrogate mother figure. Wants to honor their Nonna by creating a line of formal wear inspired by her designs--but fears their Nonni won't accept their queer identity. Has butted heads with Teresa since day one, and went to London to get as far from her as possible.
Raised in San Francisco and Santa Rosa, Ca. Speaks Italian fluently.
40s. Italian American. Cis Femme. Think Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 but played by Jennifer Esposito.
Sanitation worker for Golden Gate Disposal--where her Father once worked.
Ruggedly independent. Social misfit. Highly intelligent—and a skilled hunter. Feels her most free, connected self when in Nature. Had Gianluca when she was 16--resents having needed her parents to help raise her kid. Below her spiky armor is someone who would do anything to protect the people she loves--though they would prefer she drop the armor altogether. The feud with Mike has consumed her--as well as caring for her ailing mother--and her fear of telling her parents that her lifelong friendship with Charlie has grown into something more has compromised the one good thing she had going. And what's worse, no one will do routes with her anymore at the company, and her job is on the line.
Born and raised in SF's North Beach neighborhood. Speaks Italian, but doesn't with her parents as a rebellious gesture.
40s. Puerto Rican. Cis Femme.
Think Gina Torres in Firefly meets Regina King in The Leftovers.
First Female Supervisor at Golden Gate Disposal. Smart, grounded, caring, and confident--and among a few women in power in a company of men. Though she's not openly queer at work, she is in the rest of her life. Spent a decade working as a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium--but returned home to be closer to her Father when her mother died unexpectedly, and took a managerial position at his old company where she had worked through college. But she misses her former life, and fears she'll never find her way back to it. It's also since then that her lifelong friendship with Teresa turned into something more, but she's over Teresa's fear of her Father knowing, and her tendency to start little wars with everyone who challenges her.
Charlie was also born and raised in North Beach, and speaks fluent Puerto Rican Spanish. Like their Fathers--Charlie often speaks to Teresa in Spanish, while Teresa speaks to her in Italian.
70s. Italian Immigrant. Cis Male.
Proud, temperamental, creative. A brilliant. self taught horticulturalist.
Teresa reminds him of himself, and of the son he lost years ago. And she's caught hell from him her whole life because of it. Gianluca was his chance at having a son, and treated Gianluca as such growing up--but has no idea Gianluca does not identify as male.
Gianpaolo survived WW2 Italy, where he fought as a democratic partisan soldier, and immigrated to the US. He found a community in San Francisco's Italian owned Sanitation Co Golden Gate Disposal, and soon proved himself a valuable asset to owner George Moscone--brother of SF's future Mayor. This allowed him to purchase his first plot of land for a low price--and which gave him equity in a new, often unforgiving country. Now retired, he's fatigued from his wife's couple years of illness. And he vehemently disagrees with how Teresa is dealing with Mike's attempt at acquiring their land.
60s. Italian Immigrant. Cis Femme.
Caring, but with jagged edges. A brilliant artisan and cook. Love to drive trucks. Still tended to her farm and animals when she was ill. When she was younger, she was a master seamstress, and made outfits for everyone from wealthy white Americans, low-income immigrants, and congregants of the local Baptist church. Had no idea how closely Gianluca was watching her work as a child--thinking Gianluca would be more interested in "boy" things. Teresa and her became closer in the years she's been ill, and softened their once tumultuous relationship. She wishes her husband would see what she does in her daughter, and is heartbroken that Gianluca left so young and hasn't been back home since.
50s. White Cis Male.
A wealthy cowboy and politician in the making--savvy, manipulative, charismatic and cut throat. Think Henry Fonda in One Upon A Time In The West.
Mike comes from the Southwest, but thinks himself a visionary and leader of Sonoma County, and has big dreams for building its future in the new millennium. His sons are a rag tag group of hooligans who reap the benefits of his Dad's wealth and power--and he treats them, and most other's who do his bidding--like henchmen. As far as Mike sees it, the property next for to his is an abandoned eye sore, owned by a couple ignorant immigrants. And it would benefit the community for him to acquire it. But Mike has no intention of paying anything more than a pittance for it. And Teresa has been an unforeseen and unpredictable obstacle to his acquisition--pushing Mike to take more aggressive action to achieve his goal.
70s. Puerto Rican. Cis male.
Loyal, kind, open-minded, and thoughtful. Moved to SF from Puerto Rico in the 50s, and never went back.
Father of Charlie, and Gianpaolo's longtime best friend and co-worker. Knows things about Gianpaolo that no one else does, and vice versa. Also a valued member of the company in its early days, Santino went in with Gianpaolo to buy that first property in Santa Rosa in the early 60s, but sold his share in recent years when his wife passed away. This happened right before Mike moved in next door and made his intentions to acquire the land for dirt cheap. Santino is retired, and has devoted himself to his lifelong love of woodworking. He enjoys living with Charlie in San Francisco, and counsels her on working at the company--but he is still in mourning of his wife, and misses having his friends nearby.
40s. White Cis Male.
Opportunistic, self-serving, insecure. Attaches himself to stronger personalities. The perfect lackey for Mike, whom he kinda worships. The fact that Mike's sons consider him an Uncle is a point of pride. Polk hopes to be part of Mike's growing empire, and willing to break some rules in service of Mike's vision--services for which Mike pays generously, long as everything stays hush hush.
Late Teens thru Early 20s. Cis White males.
Privileged, spoiled, emboldened hooligans who get away with so much bullshit because of their Father. If they're not marauding the area on their Dual Sport Bikes and ATV's, they likely have broken into the abandoned, decrepit home on Gianpaolo's old property where they throw parties and do drugs. The youngest of them fall in line with the oldest, and none are aware that their Father would sell even them out if it ever came down to it.