From family diary to feature film

Ballston Spa siblings return to region with Emmy Award-winning director to film movie based on dynamic family history

It was a family secret nobody wants to harbor. A grandmother, raped at the age of 12 by her stepfather and enduring a landmark trial to bring herself justice.

But for one pair of Ballston Spa siblings, exposing this family secret was exactly what their grandmother Laura Inzinna Ecobelli asked them to do.

When we got the journal, she made it really clear that she wanted us to tell the story because it was important to her that the cycle of abuse didn't continue, said Lora Lee Ecobelli, her granddaughter.

With careers in the acting world, Lora Lee Ecobelli and her brother, Tom, are turning their grandmother's saga into a film, "Chickadee," which will shoot in locations around the Capital Region.

"The first sentence of her diary is her plea to help other people who have been through similar situations," said Lora Lee Ecobelli. "When telling the story, we didn't really want to make it just about the rape. We wanted to make it about her strength and how a little girl can find the courage [to go to trial] and how it affected the family and the town."

Tom Ecobelli was the first to read the journal, written in 1926. Largely raised by his grandmother, she handed it to him when he was 14.

"We kind of knew the story but it wasn't really talked about so we didn't know the details," said Tom Ecobelli. "She just said, 'This is a very sad story and you're welcome to read it and if you have any questions you can talk to me about it later.'"

He read the honest account but didn't start delving deeper until his grandmother passed away. By that time, he and his sister both had careers in the acting industry.

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