Taking a Passion for Journalism to the Screen
Tara Guaimano ’20 explored Italian surfing culture in a documentary film that was accepted to the Garden State Film Festival.
March 27, 2020—When Tara Guaimano ’20 decided to embark on a semester abroad in Italy in 2018, she was hoping to connect with her heritage, learn Italian, and perhaps take on a significant project. An aspiring journalist majoring in political science with a minor in journalism, Guaimano’s thoughts ran to making a documentary film, though she had no subject matter in mind.
A day trip from Marist’s Florence campus to the coastal town of Castiglioncello, Tuscany changed that. Guaimano was immediately struck by the parallels to her grandparents’ home town, Point Pleasant Beach, on the New Jersey shore.
“I walked past a surf school called Amici del Mare—translating to ‘Friends of the Sea’ in English—when I arrived,” Guaimano recalled. “There were so many surfers around, and it was all the more amazing because this is an area with very few waves,” she laughed. “Yet in this small community life was revolving around surfing culture. It greatly reminded me of home. What I saw in Amici del Mare were the values of an Italian coastal community that I know well.”
Guaimano grew up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey and spends summers working at her grandfather’s shore restaurant; surfing is a regular part of her life. “Surf culture is important to me, so when I happened to come across this town in Italy, I knew I wanted to follow these surfers, and that this was the perfect subject for my documentary.”
From Idea to Film
Guaimano approached the project with journalistic zeal. By the end of the semester, she had traveled to Castiglioncello three more times to film and conduct interviews. Her crew included classmates Benjamin Thomas Ward '20 as director of photography and Anthony Vitale '19 serving as production assistant. She left Italy with hours of footage and the determination to take the material and create a meaningful film.
Back on campus in spring 2019, she had support right away. Ward continued to work on the project and Jackson Klarsfeld ‘21 took on the role of editor. Lecturer of Italian Marina Melita had several students from the Weiss Language Center work on translations for the subtitles. By September, Guaimano reached her goal. The 18-minute film “Amici del Mare” was finished and screened on campus in the James A. Cannavino Library. The final piece examines the bonds of the people in this tight knit community and their connection to the ocean.
Earlier this year Guaimano received exciting news: her film was selected for the 18th annual Garden State Film Festival. Earlier this month, she received word that the Festival would go on — virtually — despite the coronavirus outbreak. “Amici del Mare” will be available to watch online on Saturday, March 28. The film won the Best College/University International Short award.
Liberal Arts Fosters a “Big World View”
Guaimano credits Marist’s liberal arts core with giving her “the big world view to take on a project like this.” However, substantial projects are not new to Guaimano. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Marist Circle and, under her leadership, the paper has seen immense growth with increased local news coverage and a nearly 50 percent web traffic increase in the past year.
Her senior Honor’s thesis paper, “‘A Human Enterprise’: Newsroom Transparency as an Effort to Increase Public Trust in American Journalism,” was recently accepted to the Northeast Regional Honors Conference. “My paper examines the efforts of American news organizations in adopting practices that provide newsroom transparency with the goal of explaining their reporting process to increase the public’s trust in their journalism,” she explained. Although the conference was canceled, Guaimano’s paper will be showcased online in April.
She also completed an internship very close to heart (and home) as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press; her career goal is to be a journalist—in part because of the larger role journalists serve in society. ”My liberal arts education and the Honors Program at Marist helped me to learn to think outside of myself. My life needs to be about doing the best I can for the greater community; that’s my focus.”