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Dennis Farina helps kick off Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival didn’t have to look far when choosing a movie to kick off its 47th annual edition. “The Last Rites of Joe May” — starring Dennis Farina as an aging con man with little to his name besides debt — was filmed in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood in late 2009 and made in association with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Films.

Farina walked the red carpet at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park Thursday along with co-star and fellow Steppenwolf alum Gary Cole (“Office Space,” “Pineapple Express”) and writer and director Joe Maggio. Actor Billy Zane was also on hand for the festivities.

“Joe May,” which will be available on VOD Oct. 28 and in theaters in November, was originally supposed to take place in Brooklyn, according to Maggio, a Buffalo native. He changed the location to Chicago only after meeting Farina, a Chicago native.

“For me, I would have still done it (in Brooklyn),” Farina said. “I liked the script so much. But when I started reading it, ‘Boy this would really work in Chicago.’”

Cole, also a Chicagoan, believes the city plays a character in the film because of the manner in which Maggio filmed it. “It’s a love letter to the city,” Cole said. “For those of us from here, there’s quite a connection. People from the area are really going to enjoy it.”

Maggio believes the audience will see a side of Farina -- known for his roles in "Get Shorty," "Saving Private Ryan" and "Snatch" -- that they haven't seen too often in his previous films.

“He’s playing a real human being,” Maggio said. “There are different layers to him. He’s noble and despicable.”

Did Farina know anyone in the past like the “noble and despicable” Joe May?

“I still do,” Farina said, laughing.

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