Ron Lazzeretti’s feature opens Lake County Fest, March 17-31

Ross Marquand and Sharina Martin in Happily After

WRITER/PRODUCER RON LAZZERETTI’S Something Better Somewhere Else is the opening feature of the lean, stripped down 8th annual Lake County Film Festival, March 17, and running through March 21 at the College of Lake County in Grayslake.  

Former Draftfcb creative director and Merry Gentleman writer/producer Lazzeretti’s feature is a collection of bittersweet comedic shorts loosely connected by the theme of people fumbling to connect with each other.  

It screens Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

Ruth Leitman’s documentary Tony & Janina’s American Wedding, about a suburban Polish family ripped apart when the mother is deported on an immigration technicality, prompting her husband to become a reform activist, screens Sunday at 12:15 and 6:15 p.m. and Monday at 8 p.m.

Glass City Films producer John Klein makes his feature directorial debut with Happily After, about a young man’s romance with a divorced mother.  Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 12:10 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.  

Brad Morris and Emily Wilson in Special NeedsSCOTT SMITH’S COMEDY SHORT Special Needs, written by and starring Second City Main Stage alumni and Midwest Independent Film Festival acting award winners Brad Morris and Emily Wilson, screens at the ongoing SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.  John Fromstein of Fulton Market Films produced.  

Fulton Market is in postproduction on the short A Certain Breed, also with Wilson and Morris. They’re also producing playwright Penny Penniston’s short One In A Million.

Shirin Caiola and Justin Todd on the set of MaywoodJUSTIN TODD is developing a “mysterious, creepy” web series based on his short film Maywood, starring Joyce Porter, Shirin Caiola, and Jim Hager.  Fernando Castillo is DP/editor/sound designer.

“Maywood is a place of dark streets, $40,000 bungalows, broad lawns, and it’s also the murder capital of the suburbs, and for some reason I was inspired to do this film as a result of walk I took through Maywood this past summer,” Todd writes.

El PorterFILMMAKER EL PORTER (All About the Ring) is developing the educational puppet series The Monkey House, inspired by his two-year-old daughter’s fascination with monkeys.  

“I’ve tried to get her to watch Curious George, she’s not interested,” Porter writes.  “I tried Captain Huggy Face, on the show Word Girl, no dice; she tolerates Boots, from Dora the Explorer.”  

“That’s when I realized what the problem is… these monkeys don’t talk or have personality.   Unfortunately there isn’t any overly popular cartoon or puppet show with monkeys as the main character(s)… until now!”

DEADLINES:  Tuesday, March 15 is the final submission deadline for IFP/Chicago’s 18th Annual CHICAGO UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL.  Entry fees are $55 for features, $45 for shorts.  CUFF runs June 2-9 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.