Lions in the Bronx

Institute History

  • 1994 January Screenwriters Lab


Escaping from communist Yugoslavia in 1958, a Croatian widower brings his two sons to New York City in search of a new world free of political and religious oppression. They settle into the Norwood section of the Bronx, where a mixture of Croats, Serbs, Albanians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Gypsies have recreated a little Yugoslavia.

The two sons, once very close, are drawn into different subcultures within the Yugoslav Bronx community. The elder, Valentino, 12 years old at the onset of the story, is drawn to the mysticism of the traditional church and hopes to one day become a priest. Ten-year-old Pashko is lured into the lawless underground of the Yugoslav gypsy community ruled by the Gypsy King, Tiho, after his son befriends Pashko in school.

Spanning two volatile decades which witness the Vietnam War and the assassination of JFK, Lions in the Bronx follows the paths of Valentino and Pashko in their search for salvation and redemption while they struggle to find and maintain morality amidst corruption. The father strives to hold the family together, trying to instill old world values in his sons while surrounded by a new culture of which he knows little. While incorporating elements of magic and mysticism, the story explores and juxtaposes the traditions of the Old World with the deterioration of the family and their American Dream


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