The Film

Road to the Lemon Grove is a heartwarming comedy about a deceased Sicilian father trying to negotiate his way into heaven - but the only way in is to first go back and repair his relationship with his reluctant son, get him to reunite their feuding family and help all find love in places they never imagined. From contemptuous family battles to joyous reconnections with our cultural and linguistic past, we experience the soul of Siciliy in the journey of a lifetime.


Starring Burt Young (Rocky), Nick Mancuso (Ticket to Heaven), Rossella Brescia (Italian TV star and Italy's Prima Ballerina), Charly Chiarelli (Sicilian "Spalding Grey"), Loreena McKennitt (Multi-Platinum Recording Artist) and Tomaso Sanelli (Titans). The film is a humours let touching look at the loss of culture and identity that can only be rekindled by reconnecting with the heart of who we are.

What people are saying...

  • Beautifully woven. Lovely, thoughtful work. - Paul Gross - Director, Actor, Writer
  • Congrats on a Big Win for this wonderful film! - Art Hindle – Actor, Director
  • A wonderful movie. Very well written. It was real. It was organic. - Mario Masellis - VP, TLN
  • A comedy for the intelligent heart. – Larry Chornoboy - Patron of the Arts
  • A magnificent film. Funny, uplifting, loving, hopeful... wow. – Joanne Longo
  • It is funny, moving, entertaining, and clever. At the end I just sat in my chair with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face, not wanting it to end. - Marc Aeberhardt
  • Dale Hildebrand is a real artist. Road to the Lemon Grove has a strong identity and special power... people will remember it! - Luciano Mattia Cannito
  • A truly unique and touching movie in the vein of greats like Cinema Paradiso and Il Postino. It is a jewel. – Andrea Lugowski
  • Rossella Brescia was delicious. She reminded us of a young Sophia Loren - Vince Polsinelli
  • It’s a fun ride – Sold out... Standing ovation... need I say more! - Michele Palmieri
  • We laughed and we cried.... So beautiful! - Marcia Gallagher
  • An international treasure. The characters captivate. Chiarelli shines. - Jammiran FA
  • Absolutely phenomenal!! Great story, great cast, great music (Soundtrack, please!) and of course, great visuals! - Daniele Beaulieu
  • The film reveals the value of cultural identity, with heart. - Dom Vetro
  • Profoundly touching on so many levels. - Maria Galipo
  • I put it up there with films like “It’s a Wonderful Life". Get this to the people. The world will love it. - Marie Nacz 

The Team

Director – Dale Hildebrand – known for films such as T O in 2 4, Hyena Road and The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. With over 40 international film festival wins and nominations - ranging from best picture, best director, best cinematographer, 3 Gemini nominations and a Gemini win – Dale’s breakthrough work can be seen in both documentaries and feature films.

Director of Photography – Johnny AskwithV-Wars, Star Trek, Designated Survivor. Johnny, an in-the-trenches, make-thing-happen kind of guy, no matter the budget or magnitude. Johnny’s creativity resonates with rich imagery that entices the imagination.

Writers – Dale Hildebrand & Charly Chiarelli – After having three scripts optioned in Hollywood, Dale joined forces with cultural/comedic writer Charly Chiarelli. Together they examine the fascinating true stories of the immigrant experience, while paralleling today’s cultural volatility, taking us on a hilarious yet heartfelt journey.

Musicians – Scored by Claudio Vena, featuring Dominic Mancuso, Rita Chiarelli, Roberto Bolelli, Fabio Tricomi & Raffaele Schiavo – These multi Juno and Gemini award winning musicians from Canada and Sicily collaborated to make one of the most powerful soundtracks of Italian-influenced music – ranging from mystical 12th century chants, 8th century Islamic-Sicilian infused folk songs, to the 20th century spaghetti-western colorings of Ennio Morricone. Together, they create a soundscape through time, painting a vivid collage of storied history.

Special Effects Makeup – Charles Porlier – Emmy Award Winning makeup artist and one of the top special effects makeup artists in the world, joined the team in between doing the makeup on Steven Spielberg’s BFG and Albert Hughes’ Alpha. Together with prosthetics sculptor Michael Nickiforek (The Revenant), Charles aged our lead actor with a 5 1⁄2 hour prosthetics session each day before filming began. With over 250 FX shots, Charles delivered nothing short of perfection.

Charly Chiarelli - as Calogero & Antonio 


Comedic writer, masterful storyteller & performer of the one-man hit plays: Cu'fu, Mangia Cake & Brutia Figura. Hailed as the Sicilian Spalding Grey.

Loreena McKennitt - as "The Voice of God"


Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum international recording artist. With an inexhaustible global following singing praises for her voice of gold, who better to play "the Voice of God."

Tomaso Sanelli - as young Calogero


Cicada 3301, Titans, Suits. Rising young star, currently being courted by A-list producers and directors throughout the industry.

Nick Mancuso - as Guido Pescari


Ticket to Heaven, Under Seige, Rapid Fire. After hundreds of dramatic roles this is Nick's first comedic role. Counter-casting of nick turned into a brilliant, must-see performance.

Burt Young - as Zio Vincenzo


Rocky, Chinatown, Once Upon a Time In America, The Pope of Greenwich Village. Beloved academy award nominated actor.

Rossella Brescia - as Maria Miosogno


Italian TV superstar, model, and Italy's Prima Ballerina...all in one beautiful powerhouse. Her popularity far exceeded all expectations - she was literally mobbed at every location in Italy.

The Cast