It's All About Chicago Connections as Dennis Farina Leads an All-Star Cast to Open the 47th Chicago International Film Festival!

It was a family reunion of sorts for many Chicago actors as they gathered on the Red Carpet for the Opening Night of the 47th Chicago International Film Festival at the Harris Theatre.   Writer/director, Joe Maggio, debuted his latest film (shot on Chicago's West side),  "The Last Rites of Joe May,"  starring local actor and former Chicago cop,  Dennis Farina.

Produced by You're Faded,  Farina's production company, along with  Steppenwolf  Films, the movie features Farina as a small time hustler along with a cast that includes Gary Cole (a Steppenwolf  ensemble member born in Park Ridge),  Ian Barford, Chelcie Ross and Jamie Anne Allman.   Billy Zane, another Chicago native who had been slated to play a mob boss on the ill-fated "The Playboy Club" show,  also appeared on the Red Carpet to support his fellow stars.

Before the screening, emcee Bill Kurtis welcomed the crowd of over 1200 film lovers and director Joe Maggio introduced the cast.  After the film, over 850 guests headed over to the Cultural Center for the after-party in the dramatic Sidney Yates Gallery where the stars happily posed for photos with fans as everyone enjoyed delectable dishes from The Gibsons Restaurant Group.

I was proud to be a co-chair for this event, along with Film Fest board member, RL's Rich Varnes.  Proceeds from the evening helped support Cinema/Chicago's year-round Educational Outreach program that brings over 5,000 Chicago Public School children into theaters for special screenings that expose them to different cultures, languages and thought-provoking subjects.

The Festival, running through October 20th at the AMC River East, will showcase 170 films from 50 countries and will introduce 45 first time filmmakers.   For tickets and more info, please visit www.ChicagoFilmFestival.com or call 312.332.3456.  Tickets can also be purchased at the Festival Office, 30 E. Adams, Suite 800, Monday thru Friday from 10 AM- 6 PM or at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St.

A hearty congrats to award winning Film Fest Founder, Michael Kutza, who created this festival in 1964.  He currently serves as a consultant for several film festivals including Berlin and Cannes.

Thanks for the (movie) memories Michael!

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