Film Pittsburgh Presents 2018 Robinson International Short Film Competition Gala

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On May 22, Film Pittsburgh presents the seventh annual Robinson International Short Film Competition Gala at the SouthSide Works Cinema. Open to independent filmmakers worldwide, the event showcases short works that contain an essence of Jewishness as represented by theme, history or culture. Film Pittsburgh received 108 entries from 13 countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, the UK, and the US.

See the featured films and their descriptions below:

116 Cameras (dir. Davina Pardo)

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A Holocaust survivor preserves her story interactively so that she will be able to tell it forever. (US, 16 minutes)

The Driver is Red (dir. Randall Christopher)

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Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals on the run. (US, 15 minutes)

Large Soldier (dir. Noa Gusakov)

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It’s 1973, wartime in Israel, and all that 15-year-old Sherry wants is a boyfriend. A letter exchange with an unknown soldier makes her believe that he’s going to be her first love. But what will happen when the imaginary soldier becomes real? (Israel, 23 minutes)

Life Will Smile (dir. Drey Kleanthous)

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Narrated by Haim Konstantini, this documentary relays not only his story of the dramatic events during WWII, but also the story of every one of the 275 Jews that evaded the Nazis on the island of Zakynthos. (Greece, UK, 35 minutes)

Wendy’s Shabbat (dir. Rachel Myers)

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This short documentary follows a group of Jewish senior citizens who celebrate their weekly Shabbat at the local Wendy’s fast food restaurant, with Hebrew blessings over burgers and fries. This is a story of rediscovering the joys of community again in older age, and in the longing for ritual, however unorthodox it may appear. (US, 10 minutes)

The gala begins at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the Pittsburgh premieres of all five films, an awards ceremony where three filmmakers will receive a total of $18,000 in cash prizes, and a catered reception. Tickets cost $12, $6 for students 26 and under with ID.

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Row House Cinema Spotlights Music Pioneers With ‘Here To Be Heard: The Story Of The Slits’

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In celebration of Ladyfest Pittsburgh, an annual three-day festival featuring all-female and female-fronted bands and acts, Row House Cinema will present a benefit screening of Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits, a documentary about the world’s first all-girl punk band.

Formed in London in 1976, The Slits are considered the pioneering godmothers of the musical movement known as  “Punky Reggae.” The film tells the story of the band and the lives of the women involved, from the band’s inception to its end in 2010 coinciding with the death of lead vocalist Ari Up. The documentary – originally a project started by Ari and Slits tour manager and friend Jennifer Shagawat – includes previously unseen footage of the band and interviews from Slits members Viv Albertine, Ari, Palmolive, Tessa Pollitt, Bruce Smith, and Hollie Cook, fellow musicians like Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Raincoats bass played Gina Birch, and much more.

Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits screens at 6:30 p.m. on May 15 at Row House Cinema. The event includes an introduction from the film’s director, William Badgely, and a performance by Brazilian Wax. Tickets cost $13, $11 for Row House Film Club members. $3 from every ticket sold goes directly to Ladyfest Pittsburgh 2018, which will take place from June 15-17 at various venues.

Anime Film ‘Lu Over The Wall’ Dives Into AMC Loews Waterfront 22

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Lu Over the Wall/GKIDS

This month, GKIDS will bring an exclusive anime treat to Pittsburgh when they present their new film Lu Over the Wall at AMC Loews Waterfront 22.

From visionary anime auteur Masaaki Yuasa (Devilman Crybaby) comes a joyously hallucinogenic but family-friendly take on the classic fairy tale about a little mermaid who comes ashore to join a middle-school rock band and propel them to fame. Kai is talented but adrift, spending his days sulking in a small fishing village after his family moves from Tokyo. His only joy is uploading songs he writes to the internet. When his classmates invite him to play keyboard in their band, their practice sessions bring an unexpected guest: Lu, a young mermaid whose fins turn to feet when she hears the beats, and whose singing causes humans to compulsively dance – whether they want to or not.

As Kai spends more time with Lu, he finds he is able to tell her what he is really thinking, and a bond begins to form. But since ancient times, the people in the village have believed that mermaids bring disaster and soon there is trouble between Lu and the townspeople, putting the town in grave danger. Winner of the Grand Prize at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival and an official selection of Sundance 2018. [Synopsis courtesy of GKIDS]

Lu Over the Wall opens on May 11 at AMC Loews Waterfront 22.

Doc Explores Pittsburgh Museum With ‘Site-Specific: A History Of The Mattress Factory’

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Artist Yayoi Kusama in Site-Specific: A History Of The Mattress Factory

Not long after the Mattress Factory opened in 1977, it set out to provide an experimental lab featuring site-specific installations created by artists in residence from around the world. Now local documentarian David Bernabo will help mark the 40th anniversary of the contemporary art museum with the film Site-Specific: A History Of The Mattress Factory.

Through a mix of stories and anecdotes, archival installation footage, and interviews with artists and razor-sharp co-directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk, Site-Specific: A History of the Mattress Factory presents an in-depth look at one of the first site-specific museums in the United States. Starting as a quirky, anything goes food co-op and artist studio space, the museum created a program of artist residencies in 1982 to focus on site-specific installation art and they never looked back.

The film parallels the installation of the museum’s 40th-anniversary exhibition with an in-depth, story-driven journey through the museum’s long history of exhibiting site-specific art. Through interviews with artists such as Ann Hamilton, Sarah Oppenheimer, Vanessa German, and Dennis Maher, the film provides an intimate, sometimes humorous, look at the indirect path a museum takes as it creates its identity.

By mining the museum’s extensive tape and video archive, the film unearths rare archival installation footage of James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Meg Webster, and David Ellis. Detailed discussions provide the history and context for John Cage’s changing installation, Allan Wexler’s Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence, and Dennis Maher’s three-story installation A Second Home, among other works. [Synopsis courtesy of David Bernabo]

Site-Specific: A History of the Mattress Factory will premiere on May 3 at the Mattress Factory. A second screening public will take place on May 10 at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets are free for the Mattress Factory screening and $8 for the Melwood event.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: May 2018 Edition

Zama – Harris Theater

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Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him a transfer from the town in which he is stagnating, to a better place. His situation is delicate. He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer. He is forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors who come and go as he stays behind. The years go by and the letter from the King never arrives. When Zama notices everything is lost, he joins a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit. Zama opens on May 4 at the Harris Theater.

Ismael’s Ghosts – Regent Square Theater

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Twenty-one years ago, she ran away. And twenty-one years later, Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) is back from the void. But Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) has been busy rebuilding a life for himself with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and working on his next feature film. As Ismael’s trials and tribulations unfurl, so too do those of his film’s protagonist: the idle, funny and reckless diplomat Ivan Dédalus (Louis Garrel). Written and directed by Arnaud DesplechinIsmael’s Ghosts opens on May 4 at the Regent Square Theater.

The Road Movie – Row House Cinema

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A mosaic of asphalt adventures, landscape photography, and some of the craziest shit you’ve ever seen, Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie is a stunning compilation of video footage shot exclusively via the deluge of dashboard cameras that populate Russian roads. The epitome of a you-have- to-see- it-to- believe-it documentary, it captures a wide range of spectacles through the windshield—including a comet crashing down to Earth, an epic forest fire, and no shortage of angry motorists taking road rage to wholly new and unexpected levels—all accompanied by bemused commentary from unseen and often stoic drivers and passengers. The Road Movie opens on May 11 at the Row House Cinema. This film is showing as part of Row House’s New Documentary Film Showcase.

Disobedience – Manor Theatre

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From a screenplay by Sebastián Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and based on Naomi Alderman’s book, the film follows a woman (Rachel Weisz) as she returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for an attraction to a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams). Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Disobedience opens on May 18 at the Manor Theatre.

Riverside Drive-In Pays Tribute To Tobe Hooper For April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama

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Get ready for another weekend of horror under the stars when April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama returns to the Riverside Drive-In Theatre. From April 2728, the event will offer a lineup of classic 1980s horror and science fiction movies, including a night dedicated to the legendary late filmmaker Tobe Hooper. See films and details below:

April 27

Poltergeist (1982)

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A suburban family joins forces with a team of paranormal experts when a malevolent force abducts their young daughter in this supernatural classic from Tobe Hooper and writer/producer Steven Spielberg.

Lifeforce (1985)

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Sexy space vampires invade London in this curious sci-fi selection from Tobe Hooper.

The Funhouse (1981)

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A deformed carnival worker terrorizes four teens in this early Tobe Hooper horror gem.

Invaders From Mars (1986)

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Karen Black stars in Tobe Hooper’s remake of a 1953 sci-fi film about a young boy who tries to stop aliens from taking over his small town.

April 28

Alligator (1980)

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Years after it’s flushed down the toilet as a baby, a giant sewer alligator with a taste for human flesh terrorizes Chicago.

The Boogens (1981)

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Subterranean monsters are unleashed on a small town after crews reopen an abandoned mine.

Critters (1986)

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Small, toothy aliens wreak havoc on a family farm in this cult sci-fi horror comedy that stars Dee Wallace and M. Emmet Walsh.

The Deadly Spawn (1983)

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A slug-like alien and its brood infest the basement of his house and begin eating anything in their path.

Admission is $10 per person each night, free for children 12 and under with an adult. Overnight camping is $10 a person each night and comes with breakfast each morning.

2018 JFilm Festival Highlights Jewish Baseball Players, Musicians And More

Itzhak Perlman at home - courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

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The JFilm Festival returns to bring 11 days of international Jewish-themed films, guest speakers, and more to various venues throughout the region. This year’s lineup features the Pittsburgh premieres of 20 narrative and documentary films from 12 countries.

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Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

The event opens on April 26 with Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel, a documentary about childhood friends from summer camp who visit Israel to make a movie about Jewish baseball players, never dreaming it would turn into a run for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The screening includes a Q&A with Pittsburgh native and MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo, who appears in the film, and a pop-up after-party.

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Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Other documentaries in the line-up include Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me and Monsieur Mayonnaise. Helmed by award-winning filmmaker Sam PollardSammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me explores the achievements and tensions that surrounded the career of entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., including his conversion to Judaism and his tumultuous relationship with Black America.

Sponsored by the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, Monsieur Mayonnaisfollows French-born Australian artist and cult filmmaker Philippe Mora as he uncovers his father’s remarkable exploits in the French Resistance and his mother’s miraculous escape from a prison camp. The story is told through a montage of found footage and Mora’s own artistic renditions.

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Monsieur Mayonnaise

Among the narrative films showcased is the comedy Humor Me. Faced with a midlife crisis, Nate (Jemaine Clement), a struggling playwright, moves into a New Jersey retirement community with his father (Elliott Gould). Filmmaker Sam Hoffman’s directorial debut also stars Annie Potts, Bebe Neuwirth, and Erich Bergen, who will appear at the festival.

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Humor Me

Representing Pittsburgh is local filmmaker David Bernabo, who will premiere his work In a Dark Wood. The documentary charts the path of composer and University of Pittsburgh music composition professor Mathew Rosenblum’s “Lament/Witches’ Sabbath,” a highly personal concerto written for world-famous clarinetist/composer David Krakauer.

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In a Dark Wood

Other films include the Dutch historical drama An Act of Defiance, the Israeli/German drama The Cakemaker, and Itzhak, Alison Chernick‘s documentary about legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. The festival will also present a number of Q&As with various directors and actors and three sessions of Film Schmooze, a casual post-film discussion led by local scholars and sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Jewish Studies Program.

See the JFilm website for showtimes and ticket prices. Screenings will take place at SouthSide Works Cinema and other select locations, including AMC Mount Lebanon 6, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, and Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival Returns With Riveting Docs And More

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

From April 2022, Reel Q brings back the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival (PUFF) for a weekend of thought-provoking works about the LGBTQIA+ experience. The event includes a diverse array of feature-length and short documentaries addressing various aspects of LGBTQIA+ history and culture, including the HIV/AIDS crisis and the LGBTQIA+ influence on punk music. See schedule and details below:

April 20

8:30 p.m.

Idol Worship: An Evening with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ

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PUFF opens with a special presentation of Idol Worship: An Evening with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ at the Regent Square Theater. The show is an intimate, revelatory, and heartfelt happening that takes the form of a chat/variety show starring living legend and cult film icon Mink Stole, and is hosted by drag impresario and filmmaker Peaches Christ. The dynamic duo have been close friends for almost two decades and would like to invite you to join them for this special happening. With interviews, stories, film clips, anecdotes and live song this is a wildly entertaining, and uncensored exposé that aspires to be as hilarious as it is revealing.

Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 a the door. VIP tickets are available for $40 in advance, $45 at the door. VIP tickets include a meet-and-greet with Mink Stole and Peaches Christ, an exclusive Q&A, early venue access, and reserved seats.

April 21

In Full Bloom (2015)

1 p.m. (Doors 12:30 p.m.)

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The feature-length documentary by Michael D. Brewer chronicles the lives of 15 actors (13 transgender and 2 gay) whose paths cross during the production of Lovely Bouquet of Flowers, the unprecedented stage play created and written by Jazzmun Nichcala and director David Hays Gaddas. Fiction becomes reality, when behind-the-scenes footage of the rehearsal process and vignettes from the climactic performance are interwoven with expert testimonies and compelling personal interviews from the cast, that deal with family, inner conflicts, coming out, surgery, hormones, and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. By sharing their own journeys and speaking to issues, such as relationships, spirituality, and careers, the film challenges the viewer to move past stereotypes and to see the commonalities we all share as human beings.

In Full Bloom screens at the Melwood Screening Room. The event is free and open to the public. Registration required.

Nothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS (2017)

4 p.m. (Doors 3:30 p.m.)

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Directed by Harriet HirshornNothing Without Us tells the story of the inspiring women at the forefront of the global AIDS movement. Combining archival footage and interviews with female activists, scientists and scholars in the US and Africa, the film reveals how women not only shaped grassroots groups like ACT-UP in the U.S. but have also played essential roles in HIV prevention and the treatment access movement throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The film explores the unaddressed dynamics that keep women around the world at risk of HIV while introducing the remarkable women who have the answers to ending this 30-year old pandemic.

Nothing Without Us screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets cost $10.

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution (2017)

7 p.m. (Doors 6:30 p.m.)

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Director Yony Leyser presents the story of Queercore, the cultural and social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of punk and was distinguished by its discontent with society’s disapproval of the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender communities. Underscoring interviews from figures such as Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, John Waters, Kim Gordon, and many more are clips from movies, zines, concerts, and actions iconic to the movement. As steeped in the radical queer, anti-capitalist, DIY, and give-no-fucks approach as queercore itself, the movie reveals the perspectives and experiences of bands, moviemakers, writers, and other outsiders, taking audiences inside the creation of the community—and art—so desperately needed by the same queers it encompassed.

Queercore screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets cost $10. A free dance party at P-Town Bar will follow the screening.

April 22

Expanding Gender: Youth Out Front

1 p.m. (Lunch 12:30 p.m.)

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This short film program includes four documentaries that explore the varied identities of trans and gender-expansive youth and young adults. Selected works include TomgirlA Place in the Middle, Monica’s Story, and Passing.

Expanding Gender: Youth Out Front screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is pay-what-you-can.

Tongues Untied (1989)

3 p.m. (Doors 2:30 p.m.)

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Directed by Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied blends documentary footage with personal account and fiction in an attempt to depict the specificity of Black gay identity. Besides detailing North American black gay culture, Riggs recounts his own experiences as a gay man, including the realization of his sexual identity and of coping with the deaths of many of his friends to AIDS. Other elements include footage of the Civil Rights Movement and clips of Eddie Murphy performing a homophobic stand-up routine. The film is a part of a body of recently released films and videos that examine central issues in the lives of lesbian and gay Black people. Riggs’ work challenged television’s generic boundaries of conformity during the late 80s and early 90s. The television documentary during this time was the conventional talking head, expert interviews, and personal testimonials commonly on public affair issues.

Tongues Untied screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is pay-what-you-can.

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CMU Examines Origins And Evolution Of African-American Speech With ‘Talking Black In America’

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On April 11, Carnegie Mellon University will delve into the roots and culture surrounding African-American language with the Pittsburgh premiere of Talking Black in AmericaProduced and directed by Neal Hutcheson and Danica Cullinan, it’s described as the first feature-length documentary devoted to African-American speech, and attempts to remedy misconceptions and resulting marginalization.

Talking Black in America follows the unique circumstances of the descendants of American slaves and their incredible impact on American life and language. Speech varieties from the African American community reflect the imprint of African language systems, the influences of regional British and Southern American dialects, and the creativity and resilience of people living through oppression, segregation and the fight for equality. Filmed across the United States, Talking Black in America is a startling revelation of language as legacy, identity, and triumph over adversity. Features Reverend Jeremiah Wright, DJ Nabs, Professor Griff, Quest M.C.O.D.Y., Dahlia the Poet, Nicky Sunshine and many others.

Talking Black in America will screen at 4 p.m. in Carnegie Mellon University’s Rashid Auditorium. A panel discussion with Fred BrownWaverly DuckLovie Jewell Jackson Foster, and Tamara Sanders-Woods will follow. The screening and panel discussion are free and open to the public.

Pittsburgh’s Avant-Garde Highlights Experimental Animation By Paul Glabicki

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On April 11, the third and final installment of the of the micro-cinema series Pittsburgh’s Avant-Garde will showcase a variety of rarely seen experimental works for Anxious Optics: The Experimental Animations of Paul Glabicki.

Curated by Ben Ogrodnik, the program features a selection of 16mm animated shorts from the 1970s-1990s by Pittsburgh-based animator and multidisciplinary artist, Paul Glabicki, as well as Robert Breer, Barry Spinello, Paul Sharits, and Adam Beckett. As described on the website, Anxious Optics “widens the focus to the community of artists investigating film alongside Glabicki, situating him in the pioneering ‘New York School’ animators of the 1970s and 1980s who championed abstraction over photorealism, structure, and shape over spontaneous creation.”

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Still from Red Fence

The films include:

● Recreation (Robert Breer, 1954)
● Colored Relations (Barry Spinello, 1970)
● T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, (Paul Sharits, 1968)
● Diagram Film (Paul Glabicki, 1978)
● Evolution of the Red Star (Adam Beckett, 1973)
● Scanning (Paul Glabicki, 1976)
● Under the Sea (Paul Glabicki, 1989)
● Red Fence [excerpt] (Paul Glabicki, 1999)

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Screenshot from T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G,

* Please note: This screening contains works with psychedelic imagery and stroboscopic flicker effects, which may induce seizures in some viewers.

Anxious Optics: The Experimental Animations of Paul Glabicki takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. A discussion with Glabicki and Bill Judson, former curator of the Carnegie Museum of Art Film and Video Department, will follow. The event is free and open to the public.