Joseph Ruggiero knows how to make his dreams come true. He wanted to write a book and he wrote it. “A Rose on Ninth Street,” published in 2002, follows the story of a South Philadelphia hoodlum and the young woman he loves — and whose father he’s out to murder.

Happy but still hunting for his niche — even after his second novel, “Ragabooty,” hit the bookstore shelves — Ruggiero decided his “Rose” story would look just fine in film.

After two years of studying screenwriting under Philadelphia director Dwight Wilkins, Ruggiero’s creative juices went into overdrive.

The fruits of his labor will go public June 13 at 7 p.m. when the first test screening of “A Rose on Ninth Street” is shown at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bristol Borough. And Ruggerio, a resident of Bristol Township and a secular Franciscan, will share the proceeds of the screening with St. Ann, his home parish.

“I’m happy to do this,” he said. “I feel that the grace of God has helped ‘A Rose on Ninth Street’ transition from book to screen. I have a lot of faith in the actors and the director. They’ve immersed themselves in the story.”

Wilkins, Ruggiero’s mentor, has directed numerous shows but this is his first full-length film.

Ruggiero has another reason to be optimistic because on May 2, the Philadelphia Independent Film Association presented him with $1,000, one of several grants it distributes to the arts.


The movie was filmed on 9th Street in South Philadelphia and at several sites in Bristol Borough, including at the traditional annual St. Ann Novena held every summer.

A limited number of tickets are available the night of the test screening. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Bristol sites included in the movie: Mignoni’s Jewelers, 200 Mill St.; Bristol Florist, 401 Dorrance St.; St. Ann Rectory, 357 Dorrance St.; and Philly’s Phamous Steaks and Hoagies, Farragut Avenue and Garfield Street.

Ruggiero retired from Self Help Inc., an in-patient addiction treatment center that he founded and headed for 30 years. One of his therapies was to encourage his patients to take part in the plays that he staged.

Redemption is a constant theme in his writings, including a book he’s started but has put on hold for now, “Crystal Umbrella.” He hopes this novel will be the film that follows “A Rose on Ninth Street.”

“This has been a learning process, a process of asking questions and going through ups and downs, but it’s given me hope that maybe I can make another movie, based on ‘Crystal Umbrella,’” he said. “I thank God that I can work hard and use the abilities that God gave me.”