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Synopsis: Stan is an A-grade, diving champ – looking at an Olympic spot in the men’s 10m dive team.

Anna, his mom, is raising him on her own.

But has the pressure to succeed got to him? Can he handle the stress of high-stakes athletic competition as well as his academic grades?

Suddenly his grades and his dives start to fall off and he withdraws into himself with potentially tragic consequences.

Coming Up For Air is a breathtaking family drama which takes audiences on an all-too-common journey, highlighting the importance of mental health care, sensible gun safety laws and the pressures that are put upon teenagers to succeed. During the current coronavirus pandemic you can stream the film now exclusively via the White Lake Playhouse website through September 25. You will be supporting this historic theater and the production while we wait to resume theatrical screen. Click here for streaming details.





Run Time

121 minutes


Deborah Staples (Lead Actress)
Chase Yi (Lead Actgor)

Directed by

Robert Cicchini

Produced by

Roger Rapoport

Edited by

Gene Gamache


Garth Neustader

Production Designer

Kirk Wahamaki


David Darling

Director's Statement

In my long career as an actor I have had the good fortune to work with some of the great film directors of our age. Spielberg, Coppola, Frankenheimer, Schrader, Nichols, and many others. While the films I have made with these artists have been amazing experiences, not one of the thirty-plus features I have been a part of has come close to having the important and vital social impact I believe Coming Up for Air possesses for audiences around the world.
As a director, I am interested in stories that can help move people, both individually and as a society, towards a better way of life.
In the United States, the problem of gun violence in conjunction with untreated mental illness has now reached epidemic proportions not seen in any comparable country. The tragedies seem to pile up by the week, more than 130 since we began shooting our film. Fear, apathy and obstinance are at war with courage, action and reason. All individuals must speak out and artists must be among those voices leading the social and political movement to inspire courage and change the way we live. Two major elements of the story, the recognition of the pivotal moments of truth in our lives and how we react to them, and the relationship between gun violence and a troubled mind are what compelled me to direct this film. My hope is that this powerful film will contribute to a solution and help us move forward to a better place. The story of Coming Up For Air is a privilege to tell on screen.

Director's Bio

Robert Cicchini is an award winning actor, director, and acting teacher. He has acted in or directed over 100 stage plays, has acted in over 70 television shows as a guest star or recurring character, and played roles in 40 feature films. He will appear this fall in Apple Tv’s The Morning Show with Steve Carell, Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon He also teaches acting at AMDA College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts and has directed numerous plays with The New American Theater, Los Angeles. Cicchini directed and starred in the 2012 feature film, Waterwalk, which has played theatrically in over 200 theaters across the US.

He has been fortunate to work with some of the most important theater, film and television artists of our time. His list of film credits include: Godfather III, Lightsleeper, Primary Colors, The Deep End of the Ocean, Path to War, Mrs. Harris, The Pickle, War of the Worlds, Jungle Fever, Dreamgirls, Mission of the Shark, California Solo and most recently Pilot Error. The list of directors with whom he has worked include: Francis Ford Coppola, Spike Lee, Paul Schraeder, Ulu Grosbard, Bill Condon, Mike Nichols, Paul Mazursky, John Frankenheimer and Steven Spielberg.

His extensive television credits include: Shameless, Castle, Law and Order, Bones, The Mentalist, NCIS, CSI, The Closer, CSI/NY, Desperate Housewives, The Sopranos, The Practice, Everybody Hates Chris, Cold Case, NYPD Blue, Without a Trace, Frasier, E.R., Twisted, The Gilmore Girls and recurring roles on Six Feet Under, 24 and Murder in the First.

Cicchini is an active participant in the Los Angeles theater scene and performs and directs regularly with The New American Theatre Ensemble, (formerly Circus Theatricals), where he is an Associate Artist, teacher, director, actor, and charter member.

With the Los Angeles based New American Theatre Ensemble. he has appeared in many classic and new plays, including: Tartuffe, Hedda Gabler, The Misanthrope, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the premieres of a number of plays including: The Job (Garland Award for Outstanding Actor, Backstage Magazine), Man.Gov, Bedfellows, and the world premiere of 63 Trillion.

Also in Los Angeles, he appeared at The Skylight Theater in Influence which was invited to The Transatlantyk Festival of Film, Music, and Art in Poznan, Poland. Influence received a Best Play nomination from LA Weekly. He starred in the world premiere of Open House for which he received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor from L.A. Theater Scene Magazine. Open House was named by LA Weekly Magazine as one of the top ten plays of the year in Los Angeles.

Additionally, Cicchini has performed many plays in New York City and in several theaters across the U.S. and abroad. Those productions include: The Screens (The Guthrie Theater) opposite the great Ruth Maleczech and directed by Joanne Akalaitis, in which he sang a lullaby composed by Philip Glass a cappella in a net stretched above the audience’s heads, The Racket (Soho Rep), As Is, On The Waterfront (world premiere), The Time of the Cuckoo, Antigone (tour of the Middle East), The Taming of the Shrew (Astor Place), Woycek (The NY Public Theater) in which he sang another Philip Glass composition, Biloxi Blues (Broadway tour), No Exit (Playwrights Horizons), Three Sisters, and the New York premieres of The Job (WPA) and Man.Gov (46th St. Theater).

His directing credits with The New American Theatre Ensemble include: The Heiress, The Maids, Antigone, The Lower Depths, Getting Out, and the Los Angeles premieres of several one act plays including The Sausage Eaters, Star Song, and many more.

Cicchini received an MFA from The Grad Acting Program at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, where he was a talent scholarship recipient. He has a BFA from Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

He resides with his family in Culver City, California.


Culver City Film Festival - United States - 2019

Grand Prize Feature (Coming Up For Air)

Golden State - United States - 2020

Best Director (Robert Cicchini)

Care Awards - United States - 2019


BEST FEATURE Picasso Einstein Buddha Festival - India - 2019


I SEE YOU AWARDS - United States - 2019



Amusing, believable, endearing. Deborah Staples stands out as Anna - Sandie Angulo Chen, COMMON SENSE MEDIA

Production Year


Official Website


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