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Downtown Buffalo transformed into 19th Century for powerful film

'The Untitled Cabrini Film' being filmed in Buffalo
Posted at 6:57 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 19:04:59-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Gravel, carriages and an 1890 backdrop.

Downtown Buffalo is being transformed into a 19th Century era film. For a total of 45 days, Downtown Buffalo will be the main setting to tell the powerful, true story of an unknown American legend named Frances Xavier Cabrini.

The film is focused on a nun, and highlights women empowerment.

It is something that the film's 3-time Academy Award winning producer said is still relevant in today's society.

Production tells 7 Eyewitness News the film is called "The untitled Cabrini Film" and is an independent film.

Jonathan Sanger, the film's producer said, "Cabrini, who was a nun, is ultimately the patriot saint of immigrants, and this is an immigration story, but also a story about a woman who wouldn't take no for an answer. She had to fight the church, she had to fight the city. She had to fight all kinds of major institutions, in order to get what she needed to do."

The production journey started in lower Manhattan, but crew members said Buffalo was chosen to be the hub because of its timeless architecture.

Sanger said, "Interestingly enough, we are right in the middle of- we are at an inflection point in our country where immigration is still a major issue, poverty is a major issue and women empowerment is still a major issue.

"Cabrini is a refreshing story. It's about a female in 1890. An immigrant coming from Italy, trying to take on the world and save immigrants, orphans, poverty and justice," location manager, Justin Hank said.

Hank has been the main resource person for the production team; from logistics, parking and working with city officials.

Hank said, "We think Buffalo is one of the best cities in America to film. We believe the film commission is one of the best film commissions in the world. Of course, all the films that have come through here have proved that."

A big name in this film's cast is John Lithgow.

The movie is already becoming a great economic impact for the City of Buffalo, especially since the industry was brought to a virtual standstill, last year due to COVID.

Erie County Film Commissioner Tim Clark said, "The film itself is great because it employs an awful lot of people. There's hundreds of people working behind the camera, and hundreds of people in front of the camera too. It's really a great economic impact."While the movie takes viewers back in time, Sanger, who also produced 'Marshall the Hateful Eight', said the movie shows courage that can still be mimicked today.

Sanger said, "What I really hope, and I believe that any viewer will take from this is how relevant this story is to everything that is going on in our country today, and that this is an issue that does not go away."

The film's budget is estimated at $30M. it is independently filmed and is expected to be released in late 2022 or 2023.