Fifth Star City Film Festival is July 14-16 in Lansing

Submitted image.

Local premiere of feature film by Waukon resident at Star City Film Festival July 14-16 in Lansing ... The film “Painting Jane” will have its local premiere as a feature film at the Star City Film Festival being held in Lansing July 14-16. Waukon resident Katie O’Regan not only wrote and directed the film, but also stars in the leading role in the production that will be shown at a red carpet event at T.J. Hunter’s Banquet Hall in Lansing July 15. Submitted image.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

This year marks the fifth season of the Star City Film Festival and the first year it will be held in its new home on the banks of the Mississippi River, in Lansing. Founder and Artistic Director of the Star City Film Festival is longtime actress, producer, director, and founder of Sacred Noise Society, Inc., Katie O’Regan of Waukon. Among the highlights of the 2023 festival will be Friday evening’s “Stories at Sunset” outdoor staged readings of festival-selected screenwriters’ work at the Red Barn Resort; the local premiere of O’Regan’s 2022 film, “Painting Jane,” Saturday evening at T.J. Hunter’s Banquet Hall; and a breakfast with filmmakers Sunday morning at Coffee on the River. The three-day-long festival also includes a red-carpet event and awards ceremony.

O’Regan initiated her film festival in Spring Grove, MN in 2020. The festival featured an independent film called “Senior Entourage,” directed by Los Angeles-based artist Brian Connors. One of the stars of that film was multiple award-winning actor, the late Ed Asner - who came to Spring Grove as the inaugural film festival’s special guest, and in whose honor O’Regan hosted a parade and asked the city of Spring Grove to proclaim “Ed Asner Day.”

The second film festival was held in Caledonia, MN. Actor-producer Daniel Baldwin was a guest star of the festival, which included a screening of his award-winning documentary film, “My Promise to PJ.” Asner returned to the film festival in Caledonia as well - and performed in a staged readers’ theatre presentation of “Good Morning, Miss America,” written by Portland, OR artist Phyllis Yes. O’Regan’s film, “Painting Jane” is an adaptation of that play; the film saw its world premiere at the fourth Star City Film Festival, held in Waukon last year.

The third film festival was held in Sheboygan, WI in September of 2021. This year’s film festival brings together the work of 40 filmmakers and script writers; in total, 32 films and 11 scripts will be showcased.

“‘Star City’ represents the star filmmakers that come to our part of the world, and the stars that you can see in our beautiful Midwestern skies,” O’Regan told The Standard in an interview prior to last year’s film festival.

This year, for the first time, more than half the filmmakers are planning to attend. They’re the real stars this year, O’Regan says. “Ed brought his stardom to our very first film festival; he was the ultimate artist, and a true actor - that’s all he ever wanted to do. And he supported other artists. He gave me that; he passed the torch when he went to Heaven.” (Asner died in 2021).

In the last few years of Asner’s life, O’Regan developed a warm friendship with the much-honored actor, and also with his daughter, Liza - cast by O’Regan in her film, “Painting Jane.” “(Ed) was from the Midwest, and he loved that I was from the Midwest,” O’Regan says.

Indeed, while she has lived in many places - New York City, Chicago, Miami, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, to name a few - O’Regan was born and raised in northeast Iowa and considers this place home. She lives now in Waukon - in the home of former Standard Editor Dick Schilling which O’Regan remodeled and shared until recently with her late father, Francis O’Regan. “And Ed was so cool to my dad,” she recalls. “He said to me, ‘Your dad’s a hell of a guy.’”

The 2023 Star City Film Festival, O’Regan says, is dedicated to her father. Suggested donation for the entire film festival is $20. Vintage “Ed Asner Day” t-shirts and Star City Film Festival t-shirts will also be available for purchase. For more information call 563-419-4490, email, or go

Presented by Sacred Noise Society, Inc., the fifth annual Star City Film Festival is sponsored by Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism.


Friday, July 14
Check-in for festival attendees and a meet-and-greet with filmmakers begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Red Barn Resort. Doors open and attendees can get their hands stamped for the festival. “Stories at Sunset” begins at 7 p.m. and features outdoor staged readings, with actors entertaining attendees by making the work of festival-selected scriptwriters come alive.

In addition, film festival founder and artistic director Katie O’Regan will sing a capella, for the first time anywhere, songs from her 2022 collection, “Stories From Under My Hats”. Script readings continue until 9:30 p.m., at which time the feature film, “Reveille,” by Michael Akkerman, will be screened on an outdoor screen. Campers at the resort are admitted to Friday evening’s events at no charge.

Saturday, July 15
Films will be screened all day, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at T.J. Hunter’s Banquet Hall and will continue screening there until 6 p.m. Beginning at 2 p.m. at Lansing Office Works, four feature films will be screened, as well. Film fest attendees may choose either location, depending on which films they would like to see. Prior to the screenings at Lansing Office Works, a short film narrated by Val Reinke, executive director of Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism, sponsor of the film festival, will be shown.

A red-carpet event - for which attendees are encouraged to dress up - begins at 6 p.m. at T.J. Hunter’s Banquet Hall. At 6:45 p.m., the feature film, “Painting Jane,” produced and directed by Katie O’Regan, will be screened - followed by a special guest music performance with dance music. An after-party will cap off the evening.

Sunday July 16
Coffee on the River will host a breakfast with filmmakers, details of which will be announced at a later date. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., T.J. Hunter’s Banquet Hall will host two more film screenings, with talkbacks. An awards ceremony will begin at noon at the Banquet Hall and will conclude the film festival.