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Bed-Stuy Director Tapped to Tour Italy as Part of Film Festival

 Bed-Stuy director Dominga Martin will spend 75 days traveling 10 Italian regions for the CinemadeMare film festival.
Bed-Stuy director Dominga Martin will spend 75 days traveling 10 Italian regions for the CinemadeMare film festival.
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Frank Ishman

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — It must have been someone playing a prank.

That's how Bed-Stuy director Dominga Martin described one day checking her inbox and seeing an invitation to trek across 10 Italian regions for a traveling film festival— all expenses paid.

"I thought it was a joke," Martin said with a laugh.

But it was no joke.

Martin was one of about 100 filmmakers chosen to take part in CinemadaMare, a 75-day, 2,500-mile itinerant film festival and competition traveling from Rome to Venice over the course of the summer.

From now until September, Martin will visit different cities across the country and once a week write, shoot and edit her own 25-minute film to be shown in the main square or village hosting the participants, according to the festival's website.

The journey ends with a stop at the Venice Film Festival.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Martin said. "I want to be able to see Italy and enhance my cinematic scope as an American filmmaker."

A former writer for publications including Vibe, Essence and Blackfilm.com, Martin started directing short films and music videos in 2000, and a year later started her own film company, House of Ming.

She's since had her work screened at a BET short films showcase, and at the United Nations for the the 11th annual African American Women in Cinema Festival. 

In 2013, she ended a three-year bout with breast cancer, an experience that she said changed her outlook on filmmaking and life in general.

"It was a miraculous journey," she said. "I've just celebrated another birthday, and I feel like my life is just beginning."

The Boston-born director is now working on her first full-length feature, "My First Loves," a romantic comedy about a woman who gets cold feet before her wedding. 

But with the festival putting that feature on hold, she's taken on a new project: A documentary series called "Diary of a Reel Girl," which details the filmmaking process, and which she's beginning on her Italian odyssey.

"I'm channeling 'Eat, Pray, Love, but for a multicultural audience," she said.

The Italian festival is daunting — she's never edited her own work, for example, and before her trip took a last minute class on how to use editing software.

But the filmmaker said she's up to the task.

"It's definitely going to be challenging," Martin said. "But, you know, I'm up for the challenge.

"I'm a Boston girl who lives in Brooklyn, so I can handle it."