"Inspired by French poet Arthur Rimbaud's ILLUMINATIONS, the Bongiornos’ eponymous anthology of short films echoes a number of themes recurrent in the nineteenth-century poems: shifts in vision and self-understanding prompted by travel, tensions pitting artists against bourgeois constraints, and social injustices, to name just a few. Characters occasionally cite Rimbaud's ILLUMINATIONS directly, but the Bongiornos' films are not literal adaptations of individual poems. Rather, they provide an intriguing and thought-provoking illustration of Rimbaud’s continued relevance, here in the sensorial medium of film that the French poet would have appreciated.  "Coloured Plates," the English words identified in 1886 by Rimbaud's first editor as the poet's desired subtitle for ILLUMINATIONS anticipated the process of filmmaking itself.”

~Dr. Elizabeth Emery

Professor of French, Montclair State University

"These films bristle with the exorbitant antic energy (I shall avoid any overview of the technical or performative mastery but register mightily my profound impressions) of both sensitive and stunted human beings grappling with world events and with each other. They are beleaguered and bold, attempting to establish clarity, understanding, empathy, and a sense of where they stand in the scheme of, well, the kinds of classification, incorporation, and assimilation the world wishes to seize upon and hold us to.

That the Bongiornos chose as their ur-text the restive, ambiguous, feverish, and animatedly unstable and non-complacent scripts of Rimbaud demonstrate their commitment to brilliant novelty-- staging new representations and so new possibilities, forcing readers and readers (little coercion is needed in this blissful creative witness and exchange) to consider and reconsider the contents and contexts of both the poems and the films, in relation to one another and apart. The encounters and engulfment of these two arts-- poems and film-- does not so much blur them but orchestrate emergent sensitivities to what they are and what they might be thought to be. My reading of Rimbaud will now always be informed by the camera of the Bongiornos and also his pen now always carries the imaginary ink of their timely intervention in using Rimbaud, the seemingly apolitical poet, in an entirely fresh and adventurous way.”

~Dr. Jon Curley

Poet and Professor, NJIT


"In their short historical fiction film, HEARING VOICES, the Bongiornos enter the realm of presenting and interpreting the past anew—a Lin Manual-Miranda-like treatment minus the pop music. Set at a historical site in Staten Island, the “ghosts” of General Giuseppe Garibaldi and inventor Antonio Meucci reunite in the home they shared in the 1850s, a time of angst toward immigration and tumult over new technologies in an altogether different New York City. The Bongiorno duo has entered a new realm with HEARING VOICES and other historical and heritage sites should take notice—a short film of historical fiction can re-interpret the past as well as bring it alive!"

~Dr. Tom McCabe

Historian, Rutgers University-Newark


LOVE & ARGUMENTS  2 Illuminations