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Movie Festival in Honor of James Caan, Who Was Raised in Sunnyside and Died Last Month, to Take Place at MoMI Next Month

James Caan playing the role of Sonny in The Godfather Part 2 (Photo Screenshot YouTube)

Aug. 30, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria is holding a film festival next month dedicated to the life and career of actor James Caan, who was raised in Sunnyside and died last month at the age of 82.

The festival, aptly called The Caan Film Festival, will run for four consecutive weekends at the museum, located at 36-01 35th Ave., and will feature screenings of the actor’s most memorable movies.

The movie festival aims to celebrate Caan’s illustrious career spanning six decades where he appeared in more than 80 films.

His rugged good looks and tough-guy disposition saw him appear in many masculine roles including in films such as “Rollerball,” Gardens of Stone” and the “Godfather.”

The festival’s first screening will be that of “The Godfather” (1972) and it will take place on Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. In the movie, Caan plays the iconic role of Sonny, the hot-headed eldest son of mafia don Vito Corleone, in a performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination.

 

Other movies that will be screened as part of the festival include “El Dorada,” “The Gambler,” “Harry and Walter Go to New York,” “Cinderella Liberty,” “Thief,” “Games,” “Alien Nation” and “Elf.”

The festival will close out on Oct. 8 with a screening of “The Killer Elite” where Caan plays the role of Mike Locken, a contracted agent for a private security firm affiliated with the CIA. Locken gets double-crossed and shot by his partner but he rehabilitates himself and vows to get revenge.

The Caan Film Festival is being organized by Eric Hynes, curator of film at MoMI, and Edo Choi, assistant curator of film at MoMI.

It will be the fourth time the museum has organized a James Caan-themed festival, although it will be the first since his passing. The previous festival was held over two consecutive weekends in July 2021.

Organizers are expecting plenty of interest in the upcoming festival, given Caan’s recent death and his association with Queens.

Caan was born in the Bronx on March 26, 1940 but grew up in Sunnyside. He was the son of Jewish immigrants from Germany whose father was in the kosher meat business.

In 2006, Caan told the publication Cigar Aficionado that Sunnyside shaped who he was in adult life.

He said he and his two siblings—brother, Ronnie, and sister Barbara—learned life skills in what was a working-class Queens neighborhood. The neighborhood at the time primarily consisted of Italian, Irish and Jewish families.

Tickets to the festival cost $15 per screening, with discounts available to museum members, seniors, students and youth.

All screenings will take place at the Redstone Theater or the Bartos Screening Room, which are both located inside the museum.

A full list of movies and times can be viewed by clicking here.

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