Cast: Eric Roberts,Armand Assante, Sean Young, Osman Soykuk, Kres Novacovik, Marisa Brown, Branko Duric, Paul Callahan, Gaetano Sciortino, Sarah Sebastina, Patrick Gorman, Tyler Hollinger, Sewell Whitney, Tanja Ribic, Federico Castelluccio
Director: Ante Novakovic
The Leaves of the Tree is a mystery-drama that was screened at the 2016 Italian Contemporary Film Festival. The movie depicts a group of people who embark on a journey to Italy to discover the mystical healing powers of a sacred tree. The group consists of Patrick (Eric Roberts), who has advanced heart disease, his wife, Sweetness (Sean Young), and their daughter, Daniella (Sarah Sebastiana). They are also accompanied by Roberta ( Marisa Brown ), the vice president of a cosmetics company that is interested in using the properties of the tree in her companies’ products, and Joe (Armand Asante), who is the president of the cosmetics company. The decision to travel to Italy iss made after Dr. Ferrimati ( Federico Castelluccio), a doctor from Italy, who lauds the benefits and power of the tree, made a pitch to Joe and his team. Patrick , who is dying of heart disease, is a lawyer and decides that he will travel with them and make this case his final journey.
Simultaneous to this trip, we are introduced to a bishop, Don Diego (Osman Soykut), and his colleagues, who are trying to prevent outsiders from accessing and using the tree. This particular tree is located on what is claimed to be holy ground and could be the very tree from which Jesus’ crucifixion cross was made. They try to foil the group’s activity at every turn, using thinly veiled threats and bribery. In the midst of all these activities, Roberta meets and falls in love with Hank (Kresh Novakovic), who is Dr. Ferrimanti’s assistant and a former priest. His back story opens the door to Don Diego’s past and his role in the death of a former pope. The story line is reminiscent to the Da Vinci Code and other Christian based religious conspiracy theories.
As the plot unfolds, we are taken on a journey of love, romance, family, and mystery wrapped up with a bit of science fiction. The Leaves of the Tree is an interesting film that manages to capture what most would say is the essence of Italy: the romance, the food, the beautiful scenery, and the country’s rich heritage and Christian history. I recommend this movie to film lovers who are interested in the Italian culture, drama, and mystery. I must caution that the film is very slow paced, so those who enjoy films with a rapidly developing narrative and story line, should watch this film with that mind.
Leaves of the Tree is Ante Novakovic first feature film. He has experience directing, producing, and writing television series and shorts. His short film “The Fix” was nominated for numerous awards and won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in 2013.