Directorial debut for composer Gina Fontanini

GINA FONTANINI, a film composer and music supervisor who worked at Studio Chicago/Music Industry Workshop, is making her directorial debut with the feature “Follow the Leader,” shooting in Chicago, New York and Prague this summer.

Fontanini worked with writer Christina Koustenis on the screenplay, based on Czech-born artist Misa Verbeek’s experience growing up in Czechoslovakia and immigrating to the U.S. as a young woman.

Follow the Leader” is a coproduction of Fontanini’s La Gi Productions and New York music house Third Rail Productions.

Fontanini’s score for the film is being recorded at Chicago Recording Company.

Fontanini composed the scores for “This Town,” “Flying Over Cuba,” “The Past,” “Finding the Bronx,” “Sanctuaries of the Heart,” and “An Unforgivable Sin.” Email fontaninigina@yahoo.com.

THE 17th ANNUAL CHICAGO UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, in its third year under the IFP/Chicago umbrella, runs June 24-July 1 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

CUFF opens June 24 with Alexandre Franchi's "The Wild Hunt," a thriller set in the world of live action role playing games.

Locally-connected films at CUFF 17 includea former IFP/Chicago executive director Elizabeth Donius and Amy Elliot's documentary "World's Largest," which premiered at SXSW; the world premiere of U of C grads Ben Kolak, Brian Ashby, and Courtney Prokopas's doc "Scrappers," about scrap metal salvagers; and Frank V. Ross's mumblecorish "Audrey the Trainwreck."

Plus there's a retrospective of the films of lifetime achievement awardee Jonas Mekas, who will attend the festival, the festival-renowned Baltimore experimental narrative "Putty Hill," shorts by George Kuchar, Guy Maddin, "Atom Smashers" director Clayton Brown, and SAIC prof Jennifer Reeder.

See

ACTRESS SHARON GLESS appears June 26, noon-2 p.m. at the DVD release party for "Hannah Free," the lesbian romantic drama in which she stars. It's at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St. $50 includes DVD, the new companion novel, and h'ors d'oeuvres. See

BEN STEGER'S documentary "Left Field," about the Humboldt Park kickball league, has a DVD release party June 24 at 7 p.m. at Ronny's, 2101 N. California, with live music by soundtrack contributors and league members American Draft, The Brovine, Cooler By The Lake, The Ronject and Gina Black. "Left Field" screens 6/25 at midnight, June 27 at 7 p.m. and June 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Brew & View at the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. See

MIKE HOULIHAN ("Tapioca") has been awarded a grant from the William F. O'Connor Foundation toward the production of his documentary "Our Irish Cousins," a celebration of Irish American culture and its ties to the old sod. See

SUBMISSION DEADLINE for the 29th REELING: CHICAGO LESBIAN & GAY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL is June 25. Late deadline is July 15. Reeling runs Nov. 4-13. See

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