'The Sleight' to premiere March 27 at Gene Siskel Film Center

Fans of Rikki Lee Travolta will soon be able to see the Chicago actor back on the big screen when "The Sleight" from director Ben Kurstin premieres at the Midwest Film Festival's Emerging Filmmaker Night at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Monday, March 27.

The thriller with dark comedy undertones follows a down on his luck hotel ballroom magician who gets drugged and kidnapped by a trio of mysterious women who believe him to be someone they once knew. It tackles issues of both faith and morals, but without heavy handed judgment. It more so makes you question, but at heart is entertainment.

The Sleight also stars Amy Stricker who appeared in the 2017 Jeff Award-winning production of High Fidelity and was seen this season in a riveting performance on Chicago PD. Co-starring are Chinese American actress Freda Hu out of Los Angeles and fresh-faced Isabel Fugatt in her cinematic debut.

Travolta gained fame when he was brought to Chicago to star in "Tony n' Tina's Wedding." His run in Chicago was so popular, he was farmed out to appear as the groom in productions across the country.

A natural spokesperson with a charming smile, Travolta parlayed his acting success into a career in marketing as the head of public relations for such companies as Empire Today and Other World Computing. He now handles PR for Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses fame.

Travolta continues to make critically acclaimed appearances in select film and stage projects. In 2022 he appeared in "I Hate Hamlet," earning his third Best Performer nomination in the Broadway World Regional Theatre Awards. He was previously nominated for his starring role in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and his supporting role in Tracy Letts' "August: Osage County."

The Sleight is the second film from 54 Scripts Productions, following the success of the award-wining short film Yellow Polka Dot. Kurstin in the screenwriter of both films and served as cinematographer on Yellow Polka Dot. Tin Nguyen served as cinematographer for The Sleight and director for Yellow Polka Dot.

In addition to The Sleight, other films slated to be screened include Labor of Love by Hannah Rosalie Wright, Close as Brothers by Jennifer Hardacker, JOE by Noah Rogers, Masterpieces by Bridget Johnson and Ronan Morrissey, An Apocalypse by Matt O'Connell, Having a Nice Day by Jesse Rothenberg and Zo Zosak, Crawdad by Jess Myers Rigoni, Eaten by Andrew Paul Davis, and Bliss by Dalin Nelson.

The Midwest Film Festival's Emerging Filmmaker Night will kick off with a networking reception at 6:30 p.m. Screenings of the evening's ten films will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will be an after party at the Emerald Loop Bar & Grill.

The Gene Siskel Film Center is located at 164 N. State Street in Chicago. For tickets, visit or call the box office at (312) 864-2085.

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