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Inaugural film festival coming to Bicentennial Park & Theatre in Joliet

Like the cities of Naperville and Chicago, Joliet is set to become home to a film festival in April.

The J-Town Film Fest will make its debut April 29 at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park & Theatre.

“Naperville has had one for 10 years, and Chicago has theirs,” said Lori Carmine, park manager for Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park & Theatre. “We’re the third largest city [in Illinois]. We should have one.”

Carmine said the idea behind hosting the festival began long ago and is closer to being realized.

During the summer months, Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park commonly runs a camp for community youth to get involved in. Around that time last year, they put on a production of “Singing in the rain“ involving video. That’s when Sheila White, of Joliet Community Television, said Joliet could be a good place to host a film festival.

White was providing assistance to the theatre at the time, Carmine said.

Organizers started discussing the idea of hosting the festival in the fall of 2017.

Carmine said they have such great talent in Joliet, and all they need is a place to showcase their work.

“We’d love to see this grow with showings at the museum, at the colleges, and ending up at the Rialto [Square Theatre,]” Carmine said.

Carmine wants anyone interested in music, animation, documentary, comedy, drama or phone-based film productions to get involved.

“The only requirements are they’re all short-form, phone [-based films are] 10 minutes or under, and the others must be under 20 minutes,” Carmine said. “We want to start small. We also want to keep it at a PG-13 rating.”

Organizers are anticipating that they will showcase the best pieces of each category and let the audience choose their fan favorite.

“I think that ours will get homegrown talent, though we’re open to anybody,” Carmine said. “Joliet is so diverse, you get a variety. You’ll have people from high-school age to adults [participating in the film festival.] The diverse factor is the biggest asset, and we have several categories.”

To help make the film festival possible, organizers have been in talks with the film teachers at Joliet Junior College. The radio station at University of St. Francis reached out to the organizers with interest in providing promotion.

Organizers are in need of additional committee members and volunteers, and they encourage anyone interested to get in touch.

The film festival is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 29 at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park & Theatre.

To submit a film, email to or U.S. mail to Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park & Theatre, 201 W. Jefferson St., Joliet, IL 60432.

For more information, visit or call 815-724-3761.


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