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George Chakiris of 'West Side Story' fame to speak at IU Cinema

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- George Chakiris, best known for his role as Bernardo in the film "West Side Story," will appear at 3 p.m. Sept. 5 at IU Cinema as part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series.

"It is amazing for us to have another Academy Award-winning actor in the IU Cinema this semester," IU Cinema director Jon Vickers said. "George Chakiris' natural talent and charisma pour off the screen in the two restored features that we are screening. We know that he will be an inspiring guest for students and community members alike."

Chakiris began his career in the 1947 film "Song of Love," playing a member of a boys' choir. He followed the part with a steady string of acting and dancing roles in films such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Brigadoon" and "White Christmas" before breaking into the spotlight with "West Side Story."

In "West Side Story," his portrayal of the tough but likeable leader of the Sharks won Chakiris an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Chakiris' personal magnetism and powerful style of dance helped give the film a timeless appeal.

In 2014, the Hollywood Reporter placed "West Side Story" at No. 61 on its list of Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films.

Chakiris continued to dance and act on stage, in film and on television through the late 1990s. In recent years, he has devoted his considerable talents to jewelry design with the creation of his company, George Chakiris Collections.

As part of Chakiris’ visit to the Indiana University campus, he will take part in a public interview and two film screenings at IU Cinema.

The 45-minute onstage interview will be led by Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance. Afterward, audience members may participate in a question-and-answer session. Tickets are not required for this event; however, seating is limited at IU Cinema.

The following film screenings, also at the cinema, are free but ticketed. Chakiris is scheduled to be present at both showings:

7 p.m. Sept. 5, "West Side Story" -- This 1961 retelling of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" reveals how tensions between two rival gangs unfold in the gritty streets of New York. Chakiris plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, who runs into trouble with the Jets. Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn and Natalie Wood also star. The film, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, features a musical score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

3 p.m. Sept. 6, "The Young Girls of Rochefort" -- Real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac star as small-town twins who long for a larger life in Jacques Demy's musical about missed connections and second chances. Chakiris and Gene Kelly lead a strong supporting cast in this picture known for its optimism, colorful costumes and jazzy score. Another Demy film, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," will be shown at 3 p.m. Aug. 30 in the IU Cinema.

Free tickets for "West Side Story" and "The Young Girls of Rochefort" are now available, with a limit of two per person for each show. Tickets for IU Cinema films can be obtained at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; one hour before any screening at the cinema; or by phone at 812-855-1103 for a $10 service fee per order.

In addition to these public events, the actor will conduct a private master class for students in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance; the Department of Telecommunications; and the Department of Communication and Culture. Chakiris also will participate in several activities within the Collins Living Learning Center.

Chakiris' visit is sponsored by Collins Living Learning Center; College Arts and Humanities Institute; Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance; Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies; Department of American Studies; Department of Communication and Culture Department of Telecommunications; Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Cultural Studies Program; Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; International Studies Program; La Casa; Horizons of Knowledge; and IU Cinema. Special thanks to Yara and Ysabel Clüver.

The Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series is made possible through the generous support of the Ove W. Jorgensen Foundation. Past guests include Peter Bogdanovich, Claire Denis, Werner Herzog, Abbas Kiarostami, Albert Maysles, Edward James Olmos, John Sayles, Meryl Streep and many others.
Tags: george chakiris
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