CIFF opens Oct. 6 with Dennis Farina’s indie

Joe Farina stars in the “classic urban drama”

The 47th Chicago International Film Festival, Oct. 6-20, pays homage to its home city by opening with the “The Last Rites of Joe May,” a quintessential Chicago-set drama, shot in Chicago and starring favorite son Dennis Farina.

CIFF has also designated a “Chicago Collection” section, where “Conversations with …” five notable natives take place throughout the festival, speaking of their remarkable careers or in connection with their latest movie.

“The Last Rites of Joe May” was directed by New York festival veteran Joe Maggio, filmed in West Town in the winter of 2009 and finished in Chicago. 

You’re Faded Films and BillyGoat Pictures co-produced in association with Steppenwolf Films, and earlier this year “Rites” was signed by Tribeca Pictures for theatrical and video-on-demand distribution, starting in October.  Maya Entertainment has foreign distribution rights.

In the “classic urban drama,” Farina is an aging hustler trying to reverse his fortunes.  CIFF calls it “a prime example of the vitality of Chicago filmmaking.”

The ensemble cast includes Gary Cole, Chelcie Ross, Jamie Allman, Ian Barford, Meridith Droeger and Matt DeCaro.

Steppenwolf’s Tim Evans was executive producer and Terry Kinney a co-producer, with Stephanie Striegel (“Price of Glory”) of and Bill Straus (“Red”) of BillyGoat Pictures. DP was Jay Silver (with a number of shorts to his credit), line producer, Carrie Holt de Lama and casting by Claire Simon. 

Sound was handled by Craig Lee at Cerny American and picture by NoLo Digital.

“I’d always fantasized about doing something with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company,” said writer/director Maggio. “I love what they do. I love what they stand for.”

Director Maggio, star Farina and cast members are scheduled to walk the Red Carpet starting at 6 p.m. at the Harris Theatre, 205 E. Randolph. 

The guest presentation, hosted by Bill Kurtis, and the screening start at 7 p.m. The cocktail reception following will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Sidney Yates Gallery.

See the trailer here.

Mumblecore man, filmmaker Joe SwanbergTHE CHICAGO CONNECTION section of the festival spotlights Chicago natives you will want to spend “An Evening With…” who will share their remarkable career experiences and expertise.

KEN NORDINE, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6 p.m. A rare opportunity to hear the indestructible Nordine, the voice of CIFF for 46 of its 47 years and a voiceover narrator of hundreds of commercials and movie trailers for seven decades.  His 1957 album “Word Jazz” virtually created a new art form that combined the free flow of improvisational jazz with poetry. He will show clips from his latest multimedia venture, A Q&A follows.

Southwest side native John C. Reilly speaks Oct. 12JOHN C. REILLY, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 11 a.m.  A Southwest side native, multi-award winning Reilly began his acting career on stage with Steppenwolf and the Organic Theatre.  He went on to display his range of characters in such films as “Chicago” and “Gangs of New York.” 

The conversation with Reilly follows the screening of his new, much talked about film, “We Need to Talk about Kevin,” an indie psychological sci-fi drama, co-starring Tilda Swinton, written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. 

HASKEL WEXLER, Thursday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.  The preeminent cinematographer of more than 100 features, docs and TV shows since 1953, Wexler has given the world such classics as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and so many more.  A Q&A follows the Conversation with the Chicago native.

BRADEN KING, Sunday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m. The New York-based filmmaker of features and docs with Chicago roots is also a photographer and visual artist.  He will accompany his feature, “Here,” a road movie, which earlier premiered at Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. 

JOE SWANBERG, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 6 p.m.  This is a can’t miss for indie filmmakers.  He is at the forefront of new film movement Mumblecore, with his features “Kissing on the Mouth,” “LOL” and “Hannah Takes the Stairs.”  Swanberg will be talking about the ins and outs of indie film production in Chicago, followed by Q&A.

For schedules, tickets and other information about the festival, click here