This Weekend’s Hot Spot

Great Lakes Film Fest at PACA

By Terry Pentelli

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday marks the beginning of what promises to be one of the biggest events of the Fall Season. At 5:30pm the 11th Annual Great Lakes International Film Festival opens its doors once again bringing with it a star studded selection of films, parties, art and music.

Performing Arts Center and Theatre (PACA) Erie’s most diverse and artistically infused cultural center, will host this year’s event for the first time in the history of the Film Fest.

Since early in 2012, PACA has been the home to much of the most creative assortment of music, theatrical productions, and avant-garde entertainment in the City.

Located at 1505 State Street, PACA was founded by Mark Tanenbaum, and as the driving force behind PACA’s success, Tanenbaum has opened his doors to all and any kind of ultramodern productions as well as the more conventional creations of local Artists, Musicians, and Directors, along with many other inspired people of not only our Community, but our region and beyond.

In past years the Great Lakes International Film Festival featured musical performances by local hard rock n’ bands such as “Sudden Impulse”, “Haden Sayer Band”, “Five Empty Chambers” featuring Greg Ropp of the “The Void”, along with Hammered, and “Shag Nazty” to mention only a few. In 2007, the Film Fest played host to one of the most hard driving Rock shows ever to hit an Erie stage, a two hour live performance by legendary Rock star, Dizzy Reed of Guns & Roses.

The Film Fest has also merged its film presentations with art shows by local Artists like Fran Schanz along with many others, but this weekend, in an unprecedented move, for the first time in its history, the Great Lakes Film Fest has dared to do what no other film festival has done before. Each night during the Film Fest, “Songs & Sonnets by Jim Morrison”, an original theatrical musical production will split up the night’s film screenings.

When asked why he put a musical in the middle of a film fest, Festival Director Steve Opsanic replied, “We’ve incorporated just about everything else with the Film Fest over the years, I figured why not have some Theater and Poetry thrown into the mix this year.” Opsanic went on to say, “The Great Lakes Film Fest has always been about much more than just film, we’ve always had a very strong commitment to our local Arts Community, and I thought that it would be a way to expand our artistic reach, while giving the Erie Community much more of everything that they want all at the same time, and same place.”

Receiving killer reviews from every critic who has seen it, “Songs & Sonnets by Jim Morrison” features much of the popular Doors’ music, and many of the most unique and intense poems as created by Jim Morrison.

Written and Co-Directed by Carrie Canfield, “Songs & Sonnets by Jim Morrison” offers an inside look through a kaleidoscope of sensations, revealing the Man, the Music, and the Fuel that lit the Fire of the Doors.

Each night of the Film Fest, “Songs & Sonnets by Jim Morrison” will open its doors at 7:30pm with the show starting at 8pm.

Also for the first time in its history, this year the Film Festival will also screen more than 100 of the best films from around the world and across the United States in its online Festival, with 24 finest Indee films over the course of is 3-day live event.

The films screened in the live festival will feature internationally known stars such as Meredith Baxter, best known for her work on NBC’s hit sitcom, “Family Ties”, along with stars like Mark Metcalf, Kate Lynch, and Tony Award winning actor, John Archer Lundgren.

Opening this year’s Festival at 6pm on Thursday September 26th will be a film starring local actor Victor Kuehn in the multi-loaded film Made in Cleveland on Thursday September 26th at 6pm.

On Friday September 27th, a special feature presentation of local musical celebrity and filmmaker Tom Weber’s film, Troubadour Blues will take place at 9:30pm, immediately following the Songs & Sonnets by Jim Morrison performance.

In addition to all the other phenomenal actors and films, this year’s Festival will showcase the World Premiere presentation of “The Insomniac”, starring John Heard and Danny Trejo.

Having starring roles in such blockbuster bits as Anaconda, Runaway Train, Predators, Heat, Marked for Death, and Con Air, along with countless other films, Trejo’s appearance on screen at the Great Lakes Film Fest will be a hard-hitting experience not doubt.

Starring in over 149 movies over the years, John Heard is a very talented superstar actor who established himself in the late 1970’s and early ’80s with roles in the movies “Between the Lines”, and “Chilly Scenes of Winter”.

John Heard has had starring roles in countless films such as “Brothers Three: An American Gothic”, “The Guardian”, “Word of Honor”, “Awakenings”, “Gladiator”, “Home Alone”, “In the Line of Fire”, “The Pelican Brief”, “Snake Eyes”, and “One Eight Seven” to mention only a few of Heard’s laundry list of film credits.

In addition, Heard has also starred on countless TV series like “Southland”, “Entourage”, “My Own Worst Enemy”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “CSI: Miami”, “The Sopranos”, “Touched by an Angel”,  and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” to name only a few.

As if all this film, music, and theater were not enough, immediately after the World Premiere of  “The Insomniac” Saturday night, a massive party will close out the entire weekend’s event that will have Joe Popp of Erie’s most hottest Experimental band, “Joe Popp’s Weirdo Theater” playing a solo set, and “Triage Unit” featuring many of the City’s most talented Musicians such as Michael Bennett on vocals, Adam Holquest and Tavon Markov on Keys and Electronics, Justin Tapper on Guitar, Sule Tahirovic on Bass Guitar, and Steve Shaner on Drums.

Headlining the night’s hard pounding Alternative music mania will be international recording star, legendary progressive Alternative musician, Richard Pinhas making his first appearance in Erie.

Selling out shows throughout Europe, Japan, and of course France, and now the United States, Pinhas has been dubbed France’s “Godfather of Electronica” and will be performing with local Electronica legend, Adam Holquest who organized the entire after party.

It is with no question at all that this year’s Great Lakes International Film Festival is by far the biggest and the best, and certainly the most artistically diversified in the history of the event.

For more information on the Great Lakes International Film Festival and a complete list of the 2013 film selections and screening schedules, please visit




2013 Film FEst Background




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