Black Bottom Film Festival Returns To The August Wilson Center

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Magnificent Life of Charlie

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the August Wilson Center continue to showcase African-American contributions to cinema with another edition of the Black Bottom Film Festival. From February 23-25, the event features a selection of full-length films, shorts, and documentaries that focus on “the recurring themes of spirituality, race, family conflict, honor, duty and working-class struggle, themes ever-present in August Wilson’s The Pittsburgh Cycle plays.” The event will also include intimate Q&As, a dance party, and workshops for writers and actors.

See event schedule and details below:

February 23

5:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh Short Films

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Tale of Four

The Pittsburgh Short Films program will present two selections, the documentary Wendell Freeland: A Silent Soldier (dir. Billy Jackson) and the drama Tale of Four ( dir. Gabourey Sidibe).

Wendell Freeland: A Silent Soldier tells the story of the late Wendell Grimkie Freeland, a Pittsburgh African American leader, attorney, activist, and Tuskegee Airman who worked quietly, but effectively, on significant civil rights battles. As a young Army Air Corp officer during World War II, he risked court marshall and death for defying racist orders to respect segregated officers’ facilities on an Indiana U.S. Army base. He also engaged in successful Pittsburgh battles for civil rights in public accommodations, police conduct towards Black citizens, fair housing, economic opportunity, and other matters. The film includes interviews with various subjects, including Freeland himself, as well as archival photos and footage.

With Tale of Four, Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated actress, Gabourey Sidibe makes her directorial debut in a multi-layered story that spans one day in the life of four different women who are connected through their quest for love, agency, and redemption. Inspired by Nina Simone’s song, “Four Women,” this film examines four separate stories reflective of multi-faceted African American women connected by the inner city building that they live in, ultimately converge on one fateful day through unheralded acts of bravery.

6 p.m.

TruthSayers Speaker Series Presents: April Reign

This event will feature guest April Reign, creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

8 p.m.

Love Jones (dir. Theodore Witcher)

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Say hello to Darious Lovehall and Nina Mosley, two confused lovebirds who discover that you can never underestimate the power of a love jones. Stars Larenz Tate, Nia Long, and Khalil Kain. The event includes a pre-screening Q&A with Kain.

10 p.m.

90’S Themed After Party with DJ Selecta

February 24

1:30 p.m.

Odds Against Tomorrow (dir. Robert Wise)

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Harry Belafonte produced and stars in this 1959 crime drama about a man who hires two very different debt-burdened men for a bank robbery until suspicion and prejudice threaten to end their partnership.

5 p.m.

Cinderella Man (dir. Ron Howard)

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The work of production designer and 2018 Black Bottom Film Festival Cinematic Excellence Awardee, Wynn Thomas, will be on display when the festival screens the 2005 period drama, Cinderella Man. The Oscar-nominated film stars Russell Crowe as James Braddock, a supposedly washed-up professional prizefighter who came back to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World and a national hero in the 1930’s. A Q&A and awards ceremony for Thomas will take place at 3 p.m. before the screening.

8 p.m.

Double Play (dir. Ernest Dickerson)

DoublePlay

Based on the book by Frank Martinus Arion, Double Play is a vibrant, multi-textural drama set against the beauty and bittersweet complexity of Curacao, where poverty and wealth are two sides of the same coin. In a high stakes game of dominoes, players confront their lust, desperation, rage, and remorse with deadly consequences. Directed by Ernest Dickerson, this film stars Lennie James and Louis Gossett, Jr. The movie’s producer, Lisa Cortes, will attend the Black Bottom Film Festival.

February 25

12:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh Short Films

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Night Shift

The Pittsburgh Short Films program will present two selections, Night Shift (dir. Marshall Tyler) and Inamorata ( dir. A-lan Holt). In Night Shift, a night in the life of a bathroom attendant at a Los Angeles nightclub goes haywire. In Inamorata, a clairvoyant woman finds something unexpected during an intimate encounter with her fiancé’s lover.

1:30 p.m.

Magnificent Life of Charlie (dir. Bobby Huntley)

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After her sister Brandy’s untimely death, everyone is taken aback by Charlie’s unorthodox (and seemingly chipper) approach to her grieving process. Follow Charlie and her friends Kayla and Keturah as they go along for a wild, hilariously exhilarating and bittersweet ride – which will surely be the craziest day of Charlie’s life. A Q&A with director Bobby Huntley and star Ashley Evans will take place before the screening.

4 p.m.

Last Life (dir. Michael Phillip Edwards)

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Produced written and directed by Michael Phillip Edwards, Last Life is a tale about two African-American lovers who learn they’ve been together over the course of many lifetimes and that they must come to terms with the purpose of their repeated union. They are told by their doppelganger spirits that they only have days to live and achieve their goal (healing the divide between a former slave woman and slave man) after which they will die and never return. Edwards stars in the film as well, along with Tamika Lamison and Kobe Reverditto. A Q&A with Edwards and Lamison will take place before the screening.

6:30 p.m.

Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different (dir. Phil Cox)

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Betty Davis is known for her outsized life, fashion and music in 1970s America. She arrived on the scene to break boundaries for women with her daring personality, iconic fashion style, and outrageous funk. But her raunchy lyrics and explosive stage energy clashed with the race and gender stereotypes of her time, leading the NAACP and black middle class to object to her music and boycott her performances. She befriended Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, wrote songs for the Chambers Brothers and the Commodores, and married Miles Davis, turning him from jazz to funk. Then she vanished. The documentary explores how she became a major influence on a diverse array of artists. A Q&A with director Phil Cox will take place before the screening.

8 p.m.

Black Bottom Film Festival Closing Reception

All events take place at the August Wilson Center unless otherwise noted. Tickets cost $25 for a day pass $55 for a festival pass, and are available for purchase online, over the phone at (412) 456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office.

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Melwood Screening Room Presents Luna Park Experimental Film & Media Series

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memory keep(h)er/Paul William Kruse and Jasmine Hearn

From February through May, the Melwood Screening Room will highlight original works by local and visiting artists and filmmakers during the Luna Park Experimental Film & Media Series. Drawing inspiration from Luna Park, a Pittsburgh-based amusement park that operated from 1905 to 1909, the series will present new and rarely-seen works, with screenings accompanied by workshops and performances by established and emerging artists.

The series kicks off on February 17 at 12 p.m. with FEM_BODIED. Curated by Staycee Pearl, the evening features short films by four black women artists –  Corinne Spencer, Allana Clarke, Alisha Wormsley, and Jasmine Hearn – who create work featuring the” black female body in motion.”

See below for the complete Luna Park Experimental Film & Media Series schedule and details: 

March 23-24

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Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Curated by Audra Wist, REVOLT/RESTRAINT: How We Refrain is a two-day program meant to explore ideas about repetition, revisitation, revolt, and restraint. On March 23 at 7 p.m., includes a screening of Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman’s The Illinois Parables, an experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology, and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. The state is a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how we’re shaped by conviction and ideology. [Synopsis courtesy of Pythagoras Film]. A talkback with Wist and Stratman will follow. 

On March 24 at 7 p.m., ARTISTS READING SOMETHING __________ IN THE BACKYARD will feature artist and writer Lex Brown (who will present her video Lip Gloss Alurt), Brook Hsu, multimedia artist Tamara Santibañez, and Wist. The event will also include JEANNE DIELMAN’S RESTITUTION, a screening and panel discussion on the works in relation to the themes of power, sex, memory, repetition, and reclamation with homage to French filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.

April 27-28

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Where Are My Children?

Curated by D.W. AnselmoTOUCHING LOSS: Finding Girls in Early Hollywood will throw light on the vital contributions female players, directors, and spectators made to the successful implementation of early Hollywood. It focuses on rare fragmented films, forgotten young actresses, and personal fan artifacts from the 1910s. All films will be screened on 35mm prints lent by the Library of Congress, and most of these titles are not available commercially and have never been screened publicly.

On April 27 at 6 p.m., the program Women Directors in Early Hollywood: Lois Weber & Grace Cunard will include a screening and discussion of Where Are My Children? (1916) and an episode of the multi-chaptered action serial The Purple Mask (1916). Directed by writer Lois Weber and Philip Smalley, Where Are My Children? was inspired by the obscenity case of Margaret Sanger and stands as one of the first films to deal with birth control and abortion. Director/writer/star Grace Cunard‘s episode of The Purple Mask – titled “A Prisoner of Love”- depicts the adventures of Patsy Montez (Cunard), who experiences a series of perils after stealing her aunt’s jewels to get back at a detective who snubbed her.

On April 28 at 4 p.m., From the Archives: Forgotten 1910s Girl Stars & the Movie Fans Who Loved Them will feature selections from various multipart works, including The Master Key (1914) and Zudora (1914), and The Mysteries of Myra (1915), as well as the film The Eyes of Julia Deep (1918). Also included is a lecture titled Moviegoing Girls and Her Fan Scrapbooks

May 11-12

Curated by Suzie Silver and Hilary Harp, OUT IN THE WOODS / OVER THE RAINBOW celebrates play, inquiry, and the transgression of accepted boundaries of medium and genre in the moving image. On May 11 at 8 p.m., OUT IN THE WOODS: Queer Folk and Fairy Tales presents an international sampling of sixteen original short experimental queer folk and fairy tale films, from “Samoan and Mexican mythology and folk rites used to explore queer diasporic identities, to a queer retelling of a Swedish folk-tale about two sisters, three wishes and a calamitous obsession with a sausage.”

On May 12 at 12 p.m., OVER THE RAINBOWQueer and Experimental Shorts for Kids of All Ages includes a Drag Queen Story Hour hosted by Akasha L. Van-Cartier and an all-ages screening of genderfluid live-action and animated short films.

Harry Potter Film & Cultural Festival Returns To Row House Cinema

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Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix/Warner Bros.

Row House Cinema will cast a spell on local film fans when it presents the 2018 Harry Potter Film & Cultural Festival.

From February 16 – 28, the theater will rollout a host of Potter-themed events on-site and at various venues throughout Lawrenceville. The schedule includes a family-friendly Wizarding Weekend, where adults and children can take part in hands-on activities such as Herbology Classes at Reed&Co, a free Potions Lab in the Bierport taproom (AKA The Leaky Cauldron), and a specially curated, wizard-themed local vendor fair at Belvedere’s Ultra Dive. Grown-up Potterheads can enjoy such adult-oriented fun as live music from the Pittsburgh wizard rock band Muggle Snuggle and butterbeer tasting. There will also be sorting hat ceremonies, trivia nights, fortune telling, and more.

Of course, the theater will also show all eight of the Harry Potter films, with many screenings featuring extra fun twists such as drag queen storytime, a live owl appearance courtesy of Humane Animal Rescue, and Weasley Sweater Night, where guests who wear an ugly sweater and get $1 off concessions.

Tickets for individual films and events are available at the Row House website. Please note that many festival events may already be sold out – check the festival’s Facebook page for more details.

Halloween Returns To The Hollywood Theater With 10/31 Premiere

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On February 9, the Hollywood Theater, in collaboration with The Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival, will present the Pittsburgh premiere of 10/31, a horror anthology film with local connections.

A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters, there’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre. The film is the directorial debut for Rocky Gray, the former drummer of the band Evanescence, and includes a vignette from Justin M. Seaman of the Pittsburgh-produced horror indie, The Barn.

The 10/31 premiere event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 at the door.

ASCEND Hosts First Pittsburgh 5Point Film Festival

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For the past 10 years, the 5Point Adventure Film Festival has showcased inspiring outdoor films, art, and performances at events in Colorado, North Carolina, and Washinton. Now, 5Point will inspire local audiences to pursue their own amazing experiences with the first-ever 5Point Film Festival Pittsburgh.

On February 3, 5Point Film Festival Pittsburgh will gather area outdoor enthusiasts for an evening of movies, recreation, refreshments, and more at the ASCEND: Pittsburgh indoor rock climbing gym. The festivities begin at 4 p.m. with fun activities such as slacklining, crate-stacking, and wall climbing, food and beverages, gear, and raffles. Raffle drawings and film screenings begin at 7 p.m. 

Tickets for 5Point Film Festival Pittsburgh cost $5 in advance at Eventbrite, $10 at the door. The event is a collaboration of ASCEND: Pittsburgh, the upcoming gear shop, 3 Rivers Outdoor Company, and Cultivate. Raffle proceeds will go to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Climbers Coalition and First Waves.

Oaks Theater Hosts Premiere Of Local Horror Film ‘Body Farm’

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Body Farm

On January 23, the Oaks Theater will premiere Body Farm, a local horror film shot with a Pittsburgh-based cast and crew.

Body Farma joint feature-length movie production between KVT Productions and Nickel 17 Films, follows an independent film company that sends a videographer ahead of a story to investigate a body farm where human decomposition is researched. The footage she sends back leads the rest of her team to follow her footsteps to uncover a grisly medical abyss.

Directed by Nicholas LaMantia and writer Brandon Keenan, the low-budget film was shot around the Pittsburgh area and at the famed West Virginia State Penitentiary, as well as in the mountains of North Carolina and in New York City.

The Body Farm premiere takes place at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $8 online or $10 at the door.

Hollywood Theater Offers Chills And Thrills With Janu-Scary Horror Film Festival

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From January 25-February 1, the Hollywood Theater will give horror fans reasons to brave the cold when they present a selection of new and beloved films for its Janu-Scary event. The selections include a previously unreleased cut of Suspiria, a Norwegian horror comedy and a special double feature from Dread Central Presents. See film descriptions and schedule below:

January 25

9 p.m.

Dread Central Presents: Zombiology & Turbo Kid 

the Hollywood Theater joins with the horror blog and entertainment company Dread Central to present a double feature of Zombiology and Turbo Kid.

Zombiology (2017)

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When a monster from a popular animated show appears and starts a zombie outbreak, it’s up to eccentric duo Lung and Chi-Yeung to stand up and fight in this action-packed horror selection from Hong Kong.

Turbo Kid (2015)

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In a post-apocalyptic future, a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books must face his fears and become a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl.

January 26-February 1

Mom and Dad (2017)

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Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair star in this pitch-black horror -comedy about a worldwide mass hysteria where, for 24 brutal hours, parents turn violently against their own children.

January 26 & 30

Trench 11 (2017)

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As World War One reaches its bloody climax, a team of Canadian, British and American troops investigate a top-secret underground German base, only to find a highly contagious biological weapon that turns its victims into mindless killers.

January 27

2 p.m.

The Gate (1987)

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A young Stephen Dorff stars in this cult horror classic about a suburban kid who accidentally opens a demonic portal in his backyard. Screens on 35mm.

9 p.m.

Suspiria (1977)

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The Hollywood Theater will screen a newly discovered, uncut 35mm Italian print of Suspiria, courtesy of the Chicago Cinema Society. Widely hailed as the most shocking and hallucinatory horror movie in history, director Dario Argento‘s masterpiece stars Jessica Harper as a young American ballet student who arrives at a prestigious European dance academy and is confronted by a series of bizarre and horrific deaths.

January 28 & 31

The Midnight Man (2016)

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Alex is a typical teenage girl who lives with her sick grandmother, Anna (Lin Shaye). While searching through the attic, Alex finds directions to a game, which played properly, will awaken “The Midnight Man,” an evil being who will make your worst nightmare come true. At first, Alex and her friends think the game is harmless fun. It is—until The Midnight Man comes to play for real. When Dr. Goodberry (horror legend Robert Englund) comes to the house to check on Anna, he can sense The Midnight Man’s presence, and warns the kids that when The Midnight Man comes to play, he plays to win.

January 29 & February 1

Vidar the Vampire (2017)

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Vidar Haarr is a 33-year-old, sexually frustrated bachelor farmer who leads a Christian, monotonous, and strenuous working life on his mother’s farmstead in the Western outskirts of Norway. In a desperate attempt to break free from routine, Vidar prays to a higher power to grant him a life without boundaries. Unfortunately, his prayers are heard, and Vidar wakes up one evening as the Prince of Darkness in sin city, Stavanger.

Tickets for individual films are available for purchase on the Hollywood Theater website or at the door. Guests can also purchase a Janu-Scary festival pass to see five films for $30 (Dread Central Presents: Zombiology & Turbo Kid and Suspiria are not included with the pass).

Hollywood Theater Gets Drawn Into Annual Animation Show of Shows

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From January 19-25, the Hollywood Theater will present the 19th annual Animation Show of Shows, a program that brings new and innovative short films to audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters around the world. Over the years, 36 of the films showcased went on to receive Academy Award nominations, with 10 films winning the Oscar.

The current touring program includes 16 animated shorts from around the world that have a “special resonance, presenting compelling ideas about our place in society and how we fit into the world.”

“Because animation is such a natural medium for dealing with abstract ideas and existential concerns, the Animation Show of Shows has always included a number of thoughtful and engaging films,” states founder and curator Ron Diamond in a press release. “However, more than in previous years, I believe that this year’s program really offers contemporary animation that expresses deeply felt issues in our own country and around the world.”

Included is Niki Lindroth von Bahr‘s Grand Prix-winning The Burden, a film that explores the tribulations, hopes, and dreams of a group of night-shift employees, and David OReilly’s Everything, a procedural, AI-driven simulation inspired by the late philosopher Alan Watts. The show also features selections from Pixar and Disney veterans, a 50-year-old restored short, and other treats from filmmakers working in hand-drawn, stop motion, and 3D animation.

See a list of films below, along with synopses and images courtesy of Animation Show of Shows:

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Can You Do It

Can You Do It (Quentin Baillieux, France): Joyfully mixing incongruous elements from the highbrow world of horse racing and the “mean” urban landscape, this beautifully designed music video explodes preconceptions of race and class as cultures gracefully collide on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles. The infectious track by L.A. artist Charles X, whose music combines strains of hip-hop, soul, and jazz, is perfectly realized in the stylized blend of abstraction and representation, languidness and kineticism, in this evocative nocturnal fantasy.

Tiny Big (Lia Bertels, Belgium): A series of seemingly unrelated vignettes expressed through simple black-and-white line drawings, punctuated with occasional surprising bursts of color. Underscored by a soundtrack featuring the sounds of nature – wind, waves, crickets – the film eschews narrative, challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the significance of ritualized actions in a world that’s both hauntingly familiar and decidedly strange.

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Next Door

Next Door (Pete Docter, U.S.): An over-imaginative young girl drives her middle-aged neighbor crazy with her noisy adventures until a shared enthusiasm brings them together. Directed by two-time Oscar-winner Pete Doctor when he was a student at Cal Arts, Next Door is a wonderful evocation of the power of imagination and the possibility of finding common ground.

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The Alan Dimension

The Alan Dimension (Jac Clinch, UK): Sometimes having special powers beyond those of most mortals doesn’t work out all that well (especially for your long-suffering wife), as this very funny tongue-in-cheek fable amply demonstrates. Blessed – or cursed – with the gift of precognition, the eponymous Alan discovers that being “the next step in cognitive evolution” can wreak havoc with your domestic life – and lead to some hard choices.

Beautiful Like Elsewhere (Elise Simard, Canada): As much about light, color, texture, and sound as it is about “story,” Beautiful Like Elsewhere evokes a mysterious dreamscape of shimmering tableaux that seem to exist just on the edge of consciousness. Populated by human and nonhuman organisms, classical images and pure form, this allusive world, which may be a vision of the afterlife, hints at a deeper level of awareness and meanings beyond words.

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Hangman

Hangman (Paul Julian and Les Goldman, U.S.):  Originally produced in 1964 and restored by the Animation Show of Shows, Hangman is an adaptation of a poem by Maurice Ogden about a town that allows its citizens to be executed one by one. With its universal themes of persecution, injustice and personal responsibility, this powerful film speaks to all eras and nations and may be seen to have particular relevance in our own time.

The Battle of San Romano (Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland): Georges Schwizgebel’s “deconstruction” of a painting by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) is a meditative and hypnotic exploration of the visual elements that comprise Uccello’s masterpiece, which itself is renowned for the skill with which the artist brings order to the chaos of armed conflict. Yet, with its deliberative pacing and haunting score, the film is more than simply a masterful exegesis of color, form, and space, evoking deeply felt emotions about the nature of conflict and the horrors of war.

Gokurosama

Gokurosama

Gokurosama (Clémentine Frère, Aurore Gal, Yukiko Meignien, Anna Mertz, Robin Migliorelli, and Romain Salvini, France): Channeling the spirit of Charlie Chaplin – or perhaps Jacques Tati – this very funny tale of a series of unfortunate events in a Japanese mall displays both an impressive attention to detail and great comic timing. Even if you’re not a fan of chiropractic, grown men dressed as fuzzy animals, automated conveyances, garish décor, and/or robotic cleaning devices, Gokurosama will show you how, when you put all of these together, it spells highly entertaining animated mayhem.

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Dear Basketball

Dear Basketball (Glen Keane, U.S.): Directed and animated by Disney veteran Glen Keane and scored by legendary composer John Williams, this moving short film brilliantly brings to life a poem written by Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant on the occasion of his imminent retirement from the sport he loves. Chronicling Kobe’s journey from a young boy shooting baskets with rolled-up socks to his arrival at the pinnacle of basketball celebrity, Dear Basketball pays tribute to the ideal of pursuing one’s dream, as well as having the wisdom to know when it’s time to move on to the next challenge.

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Island

Island (Max Mörtl and Robert Löbel, Germany): A host of fanciful flora, fauna, and geological formations go about their daily lives in this engaging and highly imaginative foray into the wilds of a strange and colorful world. Accompanied by hissing, wheezing, whistling and tweeting, the action takes on increasing urgency, ending in a surprising climax that’s as natural as it is unexpected

Unsatisfying (Parallel Studio, France): Unsatisfying is about those frustrating, annoying, disappointing little things of everyday life, those little “not such a big deal, but still…” moments that make you cringe. It was inspired by those “most satisfying” videos, which can be found all over the internet, that relate a series of enjoyable moments to contemplate. The slightly retro design and warm reassuring colors, which seem to come from the end of a nice summer day, contrast with the unpleasant situations and emphasize the frustration of the endings.

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My Burden

My Burden (Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden): If Ingmar Bergman had made stop-motion animations with singing, dancing animals, they might have looked a little like this. Set in a small commercial park, this melancholy and mordantly funny film (which could have been titled “Existential Angst – The Musical”) explores the tribulations, hopes, and dreams of the denizens of this downscale microcosm of Western society. At once bitingly satirical and genuinely moving, “The Burden” is a beautifully realized paean to despair.

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Les Abeilles Domestiques

Les Abeilles Domestiques (Alexanne Desrosiers, Canada): Usually it’s not a good sign when a film opens with death walking in the door; however, in this wry short, the appearance of the Grim Reaper (who exits again as quickly as he arrived) is just one of several intersecting stories that unfold within the hive-like confines of the film’s tranquil universe. Deftly playing with narrative structure – while challenging the viewer to keep up – Les Abeilles Domestiques is a masterful exercise in “deconstruction” that’s both extremely clever and highly entertaining.

Our Wonderful Nature: The Common Chameleon (Tomer Eshed, Germany): The common chameleon is equipped with double-sided vision, a remarkable camouflage ability, and a tongue that can stretch out twice the length of its body. Despite all of its advantages, it has yet to develop appropriate countermeasures against its biggest weakness. This cautionary tale reminds us yet again that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, especially if our powers of discernment leave something to be desired.

Casino (Steven Woloshen, Canada): This jazzy, impressionistic depiction of the iconography and energy of a gambling casino (a favorite destination of director Steven Woloshen’s late father, to whom the work is dedicated) is all the more impressive for having been created in Woloshen’s signature style of drawing directly onto the film. With Oscar Peterson’s “Something Coming” as its upbeat soundtrack, the film is a breathlessly kinetic and visually dazzling representative of the possibilities of nontraditional animation techniques.

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Everything

Everything (David OReilly, U.S): Based on the work of philosopher Alan Watts, who was instrumental in popularizing Eastern religion in the West, this brilliantly conceived and executed short explores the interconnectedness of the universe and the multiplicity of perspectives that underlie reality. Like Watts himself, the film is both playful and profound, and its unique iconography – from somersaulting bears to interstellar flora – allows it to convey weighty ideas with lightness and lucidity.

Tickets to the Animation Show of Shows are available for purchase on the Hollywood Theater website or at the door.

Local Groups Highlight Inspiring Doc With ‘STEP’ Screening And Panel

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STEP/Fox Searchlight Pictures

On January 18, the August Wilson Center will host a special screening event for STEP, a new documentary about a group of girls and the transformative role dance plays in their lives. The event is presented by local activist Felicity Williams, Esq.Gwen’s Girls, the Black Girls Equity Alliance, and the See the Best in Me initiative.

Director Amanda Lipitz captures the true-life story of a girls’ high-school step team against the background of the heart of Baltimore. These young women learn to laugh, love and thrive – on and off the stage – even when the world seems to work against them. Empowered by their teachers, teammates, counselors, coaches, and families, they chase their ultimate dreams: to win a step championship and to be accepted into college. This all-female school is reshaping the futures of its students’ lives by making it their goal to have every member of their senior class accepted to and graduate from college, many of whom will be the first in their family to do so. Deeply insightful and emotionally inspiring, STEP embodies the true meaning of sisterhood through a story of courageous young women worth cheering for. [Synopsis courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures]

The event includes a post-screening panel of young Black women in Allegheny County discussing their journey through the education system, the path to higher education, and the support they and other Black girls need in our region.

The STEP screening and panel begins at 5:30 p.m. with food, followed by the screening and panel from 6:308:30 p.m. The film is rated PG and will have closed captioning. Register for free at Eventbrite.

African Film Festival Brings Seven Powerful Films To Alphabet City

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Sisters In Law (2005, Cameroon)

Alphabet City will play host to the 9th International African Film Festival. Produced by the Sembène Film & Arts Festival, the event will showcase seven films from five countries that cover a variety of important cultural, social and political issues and perspectives in the African Diaspora. The selections include powerful narrative works about the Black experience, profiles of influential musicians, and award-winning documentaries. See below for screenings and details:

January 16

7 p.m.

But Then, She’s Betty Carter (1980, USA)

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An unforgettable portrait of legendary vocalist Betty Carter, one of the greatest living exponents of jazz. Uncompromised by commercialism throughout her long career, she has forged alternative criteria for success—including founding her own recording company and raising her two sons as a single parent.

January 29

7 p.m.

Black Girl (1966, Sénégal/France)

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A young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family finds that life in their small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally. Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s.

February 12

7 p.m.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case Of The Three Sided Dream (2014, USA)

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The story of multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who went from blind infant to child prodigy, to adult visionary, to political activist, and finally to paralyzed showman. A seemingly superhuman musical force who played literally until the day he died. Kirk was more than a blind musician who could play three horns at once, more than one of the most exciting and amazing sax players who ever lived. Beyond the ability to play multiple melodies at the same time, he was a warrior against racial injustice, fought for people with disabilities, and was a tireless campaigner for a wider appreciation of Jazz. Packed with electrifying archival footage of Kirk and his music, intimate interviews, and inspired animated sequences, Adam Kahan’s film is an absorbing look at the man who wouldn’t even let partial paralysis keep him from pursuing what he called “The Religion of Dreams.

February 26

7 p.m.

Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore (2001, USA)

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This powerful documentary explores the life and times of an enigmatic leader, a distinguished school teacher whose passionate crusade for equal rights could not be discouraged by either the white power structure or the more cautious factions of his own movement. Although Moore’s assassination was an international cause célèbre in 1951, it was overshadowed by following events and eventually almost forgotten. Narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

March 5 

7 p.m.

Sisters In Law (2005, Cameroon)

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The award-winning documentary from Kim Longinott and Florence Ayisi follows two feisty and progressive-minded women who dispense wisdom, wisecracks, and justice in fair measure, handing down stiff sentences to those convicted. In the little town of Kumba, Cameroon, there have been no convictions in spousal abuse cases for 17 years. But two women determined to change their community are making progress that could change their country. This fascinating, often hilarious doc follows the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba as they help women fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent.

March 26 

7 p.m.

The Hero (2004, Angola)

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Grand Prize Winner of the World Dramatic Competition at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, The Hero is the story of a 20-year veteran of the Angolan civil war who finds assimilation into the chaotic life of the capital city of Luanda a challenge in this affecting drama.

April 23

7 p.m.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2008, Kenya)

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Directors Lisa Merton and Alan Dater tell the inspiring story of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and its unstoppable founder, Wangari Maathai, who, in 2004, became the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Taking Root illustrates the development of Maathai’s holistic worldview and model for sustainable development.

Each screening is free and open to the public and will be followed by a community Q&A with a guest moderator. RSVP at the Alphabet City website.

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