The film festival honoring James Caan, who grew up in Sunnyside and died last month, will take place at MoMI next month


James Caan as Sonny in The Godfather Part 2 (YouTube photo screenshot)

August 30, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria is hosting a film festival next month dedicated to the life and career of actor James Caan, who grew up in Sunnyside and died last month in 82 years old.

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 films.

The film festival aims to celebrate Caan’s illustrious career which spans six decades where he has appeared in more than 80 films.

His rugged good looks and badass disposition saw him appear in many male roles, including films such as ‘Rollerball’, Gardens of Stone’ and ‘The Godfather’.

The first screening of the festival will be that of “The Godfather” (1972) and it will take place on September 16 at 6:30 p.m. In the film, Caan plays the iconic role of Sonny, the brash eldest son of mobster don Vito Corleone, in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination.

Other films to 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 end on October 8 with a screening of “The Killer Elite” where Caan plays Mike Locken, a contract agent for a CIA-affiliated private security firm. Locken is double-crossed and shot by his partner, but he rehabilitates himself and swears revenge.

The Caan Film Festival is organized by Eric Hynes, Curator of Film at MoMI, and Edo Choi, Assistant Curator of Film at MoMI.

This will be the fourth time the museum has held a James Caan-themed festival, although it will be the first since his death. The previous festival took place over two consecutive weekends in July 2021.

Organizers expect a lot 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 worked 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 neighborhood in Queens. The neighborhood at the time was mostly made up of Italian, Irish and Jewish families.

Festival tickets are $15 per screening, with discounts offered to museum members, seniors, students and youth.

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

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

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