Tom Palazzolo (born 1937) is an American experimental filmmaker, photographer, and artist. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Palazzolo moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1960 where he earned his BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is best known for his Chicago-centric documentary films Jerry’s (1976), At Maxwell Street (1984), and Down Clark Street (2000). Palazzalo’s films have shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Gene Siskel Film Center. Palazzolo’s work has been recognized for his ability to reveal the realities of the urban city by utilizing the Cinéma vérité style of filmmaking. His films often include panoramic views of a place or event cut with close shots of thick accented Chicagoans. Palazzolo’s editing style adds a sense of humour while still portraying his subjects honestly.
Tom Palazzolo was born in a working-class neighborhood in north Saint Louis, Missouri. His father was the son of Italian immigrants and his mother was third-generation Irish. Palazzolo grew up with his three siblings, Bob, Lynn, and Janis. He attended a Catholic elementary school where he had to repeat the fourth grade because of poor grades. Evading his parents wish for him to attend an all-boys Catholic high school, Palazzolo ended up attending the public Beaumont High School. He participated in football and basketball during his time in high school. Palazzalo’s growing interest in drawing led to his participation in a Draw Me! contest which eventually resulted in his enrollment in a mail-in Art Instruction Schools.