"Kill the Irishman" debuts at Uptown Film Festival

The Michigan-made film "Kill the Irishman" debuted at the Birmingham Palladium theater last night, as part of the opening night for the Uptown Film Festival. Moviegoers were treated to a VIP reception beforehand, which was to benefit various charities and organizations, such as Gleaners, and the movie premiere was at 9 P.M.

What the night was really all about, however, was "celebrating the folks in Michigan who work on film and Michigan filmmakers," said Jeff Spilman, the co-executive director of the festival. "It's a wonderful time and a wonderful event because it puts a face on the film industry, and on the incentive ... [these are] great movies, and a great night out for great causes."

Spilman co-produced "Kill the Irishman," so when it came time to choose movies for the film festival, he knew he wanted "Irishman" to be one of them. He also said he is good friends with people who worked on "Things Fall Apart," and various other 50 Cent movies, which is how that came to be in the festival as well.

Laura Bayoff-Elkins, from Uptown Entertainment, said that film entries were submitted, and then there was a team that selected them. Entries had to be filmed in Michigan, either in part or in whole. "We wanted to promote the Michigan film industry and the talents we had here," she said, which is how the festival got started.

Various actors from "Kill the Irishman" attended the Michigan premiere, including Greg Trzaskoma from Warren, who plays a bartender in the film. He's also had roles in "Gran Torino" and "Demoted," with Sean Astin and Michael Vartan, which will be premiering at the festival at 5 P.M. today at the Palladium.

Greg Trzaskoma
Trzaskoma got to shoot with Ray Stevenson and Val Kilmer, and the bartender he plays in the movie works at the Theatrical Grille, which "was a real place. Apparently it burned to the ground, but it was a real place," he said. "It was kind of neutral ground - the cops hung out there, the mobsters hung out there, and nobody beat anyone up or narced on anybody."

Another actor at the premiere, Richard Jewell, played chief FBI agent Mike Malloy in the film, who ends up "flipping" Danny Greene to be an FBI informant. He said that the movie was filmed entirely in Detroit, at places like Eastern Market, the waterfront, and the Detroit Police Department. Jewell got to work with Ray Stevenson, and he also met Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken, who were all "absolutely incredible."

Richard Jewell and wife
"The best story, though, is that my daughter, who is in fashion design, became an intern for the costumer - for wardrobe - and she ended up being my set costumer ... so I got to see her on set watching her work her craft," he said.

And perhaps one of the youngest actors in the film, 10-year-old Trevor Callaghan of Bloomfield Hills, was also in attendance. Callaghan has been in other Detroit-filmed movies and commercials, and he landed the part in "Irishman," in which he has a scene with Ray Stevenson, because his brother had been in Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino."

"My brother Devin went to be in the Clint Eastwood movie, and he was an extra but Clint Eastwood liked him. So they added another scene and they asked him to stay on set, and then asked him back for their next movie," he said. "And my mom said that she had a 7-year-old [Trevor] and they asked me to be in it too."

"Kill the Irishman" was shot entirely in Detroit, in the summer of 2009, and provided many opportunities for local actors such as Trzaskoma, Jewell, and Callaghan to get involved in the film industry, where otherwise they may have had to go to Los Angeles or New York.

The Uptown Film Festival continues today, with the major premieres of "Demoted" and "Things Fall Apart," at 7:30 P.M. Films will be shown all day at both the Palladium and the Birmingham 8.

Chef works on preparing "chowder shooters"
Various drinks were served
Poster detailing the 3 main movie premieres
VIP charity event before the film premiere
Veggies, crackers, and cheeses were served

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