2015 Angel Film Awards - Monaco International Film Festival angel awards




Thomas W. Gatus grew up in western Pennsylvania in the USA, the grandson of Polish and Italian immigrants. After a four year stint in the U.S. Navy in the early 1970s, he earned a graduate degree in anthropology. Responding to life's ever changing currents, Thomas moved to Paris where he taught English for many years and now spends most of his time writing original feature length screenplays in a variety of genres. The War of Lions, co-written with George A. Perantoni, is his first adapted screenplay.

George A. Perantoni (U.S. Army, retired) is the son of the screenplay’s Polish-born Italian protagonist, Victor Perantoni, who migrated to Australia in 1949 due to awful economic conditions in post-war Italy. Therefore, George grew up as an Aussie kid the first ten years of his life. His early teen years (1960-1964), however, were on Lake Garda in north Italy, and then off to the U.S.A. where he completed schooling, and earned a college degree at the University of Wisconsin. Like his father, George was a rolling stone, hanging his hat wherever the US Army sent him to serve. Today George is 66 years old living in Orlando, Florida.

"THE WAR OF LIONS" - Adapted Screenplay Written by Thomas W. GATUS and George A. PERANTONI (USA)

‘Adapted screenplay based on a true story’

Logline: (Period Drama)

WWII comes to a boil, forcing an Italian family and friends in Eastern Poland to flee, and henceforth rely on wit and luck to survive.


Lwòw, the Polish ‘city of lions’ known as Leopoli to Italians, was central Europe’s rising hub for commerce and a notable center of education, and a magnet for scholars and researchers.

But then its vibrant growth became suffocated by post-war Soviet oppression.

Before the war Carlo Perantoni operated a long standing family wine import business centered in Lwòw at the ‘Winiarnia Italia’ wine and pasta tavern. Loyal patrons included members of the Lwòw Stamp Club who often played cards using stamps like poker chips; The Vatican Emissary priest, Padre Michele Kolbuch; André Frodel, a printer, lithographer, stamp artist; and Franki Morawiecki, a student at the Polytechnic University. Carlo Perantoni’s two sons, Victor and Luigi, were the main bar keepers.

Carlo was also the Honorary Vice Consul for Italian Foreign Affairs in Eastern Poland. It was "good for business" he always said. But on 28 August 1939 a phone call from the Italian Consulate alerted Italians to evacuate Poland without delay. Days later, Germany invaded Poland and WWII began.

Carlo and Romana, his wife, and their son Luigi returned to the family’s ancestral home: Volargne di Dolcé, in north Italy’s Valpolicella foothills. Victor instead, who was eligible for Italy’s Fascist conscription, headed for an extended stay with family in Switzerland. Lwòw was bombed, and Padre Michele’s orphanage was severely damaged. Padre set out for the Vatican with 203 Catholic and Jewish orphans, armed only with forged papers created by André and members of the stamp club.

As the war drags on, Franki was commandeered into the newly Soviet-formed Ander's Army. But the Russians considered his friend, André Frodel, too old to fight at fifty-one and sent him to a labor gulag.

With forgery he was able to scam his way to the Polish 2nd Corps where he reconnected with Franki in Egypt. In the meantime Victor’s Jewish girlfriend Dani faced deportation to a Nazi death camp.

Upon his return to Lwòw Victor was promptly arrested by a patrol of Italian soldiers. The Italian Division Commandant, an avid stamp collector, made Victor a deal to run the military post office for Axis Forces. His post office job allowed Victor to blackmail an SS officer and his Wehrmacht lover to ‘look away’ as he carried out Dani’s elaborate escape from Lwòw’s prison ghetto.

In time Victor returned to his family in Volargne di Dolcé. After the Allied southern invasion of 1943, the Perantoni wine business had become an obligatory canteen service for a congested retreat of very anxious Wehrmacht units. Being on the other side, André and Franki took part in the liberation of Italy and they reconnected with Padre at the Vatican. Eventually the three of them traveled north disguised as clergy, for a festive reunion with the Perantoni family ... amid uneasy Germans.

On 21 Nov. 1944, Victor witnessed an aerial attack on a Nazi ordnance train by Allied warplanes not knowing its true contents. Fifteen railcars of TNT parked adjacent to Volargne were detonated, instantly reducing the town to mere rubble and dust. It was one of the largest man-made explosions before the atomic bomb. It was a wartime accident of huge negligence, caused by Hitler and Mussolini.

The main characters survived but their way of life was irretrievably lost.

Adapted from "Arrivederci Leopolis" by George Perantoni