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The Hungry Ghosts is a 2009 American dramatic film written and directed by Michael Imperioli. The film marked his directorial feature debut.[1][2]

The Hungry Ghosts
The Hungry Ghosts VideoCover.jpeg
Directed byMichael Imperioli
Produced byHoward Axel
Diane Crespo
Victoria Imperioli
Stefan Schaefer
Tina Thor
Written byMichael Imperioli
StarringSteve Schirripa
Aunjanue Ellis
Nick Sandow
Sharon Angela
Music byElijah Amitin
CinematographyDan Hersey
Edited byErin Greenwell
Distributed byEastgate Pictures
Release date
  • January 21, 2009 (2009-01-21) (Rotterdam)
  • October 1, 2010 (2010-10-01) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States



Matthew (Emory Cohen) is a teenage boy in New York who has therapy together with his father Frank (Steve Schirripa), because of their troubled communication. The boy runs away during their session. Angela (Sharon Angela), his mother, is worried but Frank is more concerned with his radio show, and whether his techs got his vodka. He proceeds to use a great deal of cocaine as well before the show begins. Matthew goes to a park where a lot of homeless people are congregated, where he is picked up by a couple. They give him alcohol and drugs, after which the woman has sex with Matthew while the man watches.

Nadia (Aunjanue Ellis) abandons her room because she's a month behind on her rent. She reconnects with an old friend from a yoga school, has sex with an old boyfriend, then leaves her yoga center friend's house when her friend becomes upset by her story of her relationship with Gus, her most recent lover. She has a meal on the stairs of a house. The woman living there comes home and tells her to leave, but Nadia refuses. The woman throws a bucket of water over her, and Nadia puts the bucket on the woman's head and beats on it.

Gus (Nick Sandow) is just getting out of a ninety-day rehab stint. He immediately goes out and gets drunk with an old man he meets in a restaurant. He calls Nadia again and again, but she won't answer his calls. He meets a woman named Lisette (Bess Rous), who it develops has been in the same meditation class which he and Nadia attended. He succeeds in unnerving, and then seducing her, but instead of following through on that, he tells her to go home by herself.

Matthew calls his father, who refuses to pick him up because he's in the middle of his show. He is picked up by his uncle Joey (Joe Caniano). Once home, he won't say what happened, even though Angela tells him she won't get angry. He tries to kill himself, then Angela and Joey head up to the mountains with him to help him work out his distress.

Frank, once he finds out what has happened, heads up to the mountains on a train, where he meets Nadia, who is fleeing the city. He begins to suffer chest pains, and Nadia calls for help; he's then gotten off the train. She is waiting for him when he comes out of the ER, and during a meal together, she encourages him to come to a meditation class with her. Lissette is in the class, but she and Nadia don't know each other, and don't speak. Frank begins to relax as the teacher leads them through guided breathing exercises. Gus, having first taken an overdose of pills, arrives, causing distress to Nadia and Lisette by his presence. He sits next to Nadia, who obviously doesn't want him there, but with a blissful smile, he lies down on the floor and closes his eyes.


Production notesEdit

In an interview with MovieMaker Magazine, Imperioli said he used techniques from John Cassavetes, his favorite filmmaker, in creating The Hungry Ghosts.[1]

Although Imperioli did not appear in the film, he recruited four castmates that he had previously worked together on, from the HBO television series, The Sopranos. The castmates were Schirripa, Angela, Ventimiglia and Curatola.[3][4]

The film was executive produced by Joseph Scarpinito and Joseph Laurita.

Awards and nominationsEdit

International Film Festival Rotterdam

  • Nominated, "Tiger Award"


  1. ^ a b "Michael Imperioli Directing The Hungry Ghosts". Moviemaker. 2010.
  2. ^ Scheck, Frank (October 14, 2010). "The Hungry Ghosts -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  3. ^ Weissberg, Jay (January 22, 2009). "The Hungry Ghosts". Variety.
  4. ^ Hale, Mike (September 30, 2010). "Eastern Religion is an Ensemble Drama". The New York Times.

External linksEdit