Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival Highlights And Details

bingo_fancy_piece_varhola

A Fancy Piece of Homicide

The Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival (PIFF) returns to the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks to showcase a variety of short and feature-length films. From June 23-25, the event will screen 59 selections from the U.S. and all over the world, including many made right here in Pittsburgh.

The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony, followed by a reception for attendees to mix and mingle. The evening will also include screenings of the animated short Corky and A Fancy Piece of Homicide, a neo-noir psychological thriller from local filmmaker Joseph Varhola. Starring Pittsburgh-based stage and screen actor Bingo O’Malley (Out of the Furnace, Creepshow), the “psychological murder mystery” follows a retired private eye who once served an extended prison sentence for killing a man he was hired to investigate. He now approaches the completion of his memoir to set the record straight. One night, envelopes containing photographs with connections to the past anonymously begin to show up at his front door, along with a mysterious man (Mark Tierno) who is receiving photographs of his own.

corky

Corky

From 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on June 24, the festival presents 17 submissions, among them My Name is Joan, a documentary short about a woman who was illegally adopted in the 1950s, and a selection from Italy titled The Rope. Also included is

On Saturday and Sunday, the festival will also present Made In PA, two blocks of films either made in Pennsylvania or by Pennsylvania filmmakers. The chosen selections include director Jes Paul‘s narrative short Promenade and Teaching Peace, a documentary about one man’s mission to spread the virtues of pacifism.

promenade

Promenade

PIFF will also show films hailing from Canada, France, the UK, Israel, and Hungary.

See the complete film schedule at PIFF’s website. Tickets cost $10 for a one-day pass, $15 for a two-day pass, and $20 for a festival pass.

Row House Cinema Turns Three With Belvederes Birthday Bash

row-house2

Row House Cinema and Bierport

In 2014, Row House Theater opened in Lawrenceville, making it the first movie theater to operate in the neighborhood since 1965. On June 21, Row House and its sister store, Bierport, will celebrate three years of good films and good beer with a special birthday bash at Belvederes Ultra-Dive.

“It’s a chance to celebrate with our patrons, our vendors, and the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our success couldn’t be realized without them,” said Row House owner Brian Mendelssohn in a press release.

A video mashup of Row House movies and favorite staff memories will serve as the backdrop for the evening as DJs Selecta and Nate Da Barber keep people moving on the dance floor. Sample some food truck bites from Blue Sparrow, sweet treats by Yummyholic, and crafts by Songbird Artistry. There will also be drink specials and complimentary Row House popcorn, party hats, and kazoos.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $6. Guests with the SRVD app will have access to exclusive drink specials for the evening. As part of the birthday celebration, Row House will also host a week of their favorite films from June 16-22.

Warhol Museum Rolls Out Red Carpet For Stars Of the Silver Screen Exhibit

Andy Warhol and Ann Miller

Andy Warhol with star Ann Miller/The Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol drew inspiration from his love of Hollywood, fame, and glamor, most notably in his iconic triptychs and films. Now The Warhol Museum puts its namesake’s career-defining fascination on display with a new exhibit.

Opening June 16Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen shows how Warhol’s interest in celebrity went from attending the cinema with his older brothers in 1930s Pittsburgh to rubbing elbows with some of the biggest stars as the toast of the art world. The collection includes hundreds of archival objects Warhol collected throughout his life, including film posters, fan magazines, photos and other memorabilia, as well the artist’s celebrity scrapbooks. It also includes artworks representing various media.

1_Andy_Warhola's_childhood_movie_star_scrapbook_ca._1938-42_AWM_AWF

Andy Warhola’s childhood movie star scrapbook, ca. 1938-42/The Warhol Museum/The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

The second floor of the museum features celebrity drawings and Pop portraits, including Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley, Jane Fonda, and many others. The sixth floor showcases photographs of Warhol Superstars and Factory regulars, posters, and film and video works such as Screen Tests, Andy Warhol’s T.V., and segments from the Warhol films The Chelsea Girls, San Diego Surf, Lonesome Cowboys, and more. Also included are examples of Warhol’s early collage works, such as his movie star composites.

Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen runs from June 16-September 24. The exhibit will be on view during museum hours and will be included with regular admission prices.

The Pump House Welcomes Tony Buba For ‘Struggles In Steel’ Screening

Struggles_in_Steel

‘Struggles In Steel: A Story of African-American Steel Workers’/Braddock Films

In 1996, the locally produced documentary Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, bringing to light the forgotten contributors to an industry that defined Pittsburgh. On June 8The Battle of Homestead Foundation will present a special screening of the film at the historic Pump House.

When a local television station did a program about the closing of the major steel mills in the Pittsburgh region, Ray Henderson, a former mill worker who had worked in the mills for 18 years, couldn’t help but notice that not one Black worker was shown. This despite the fact that African-American workers had formed a critical part of the labor force in western Pennsylvania for 125 years.

With his old friend and independent filmmaker Tony Buba, Henderson set out to collaborate on a history of African-Americans and their contributions not just to the steel industry, but to the labor movement itself. Through eloquent living witnesses and revelatory archival footage, the film presents a striking counterpoint to the stereotypical Black male image.

Featuring interviews with over 70 African-American workers, Struggles In Steel documents the shameful history of discrimination against Black workers and one heroic campaign where they won equality on the job. (Synopsis courtesy of Braddock Films)

The Struggles in Steel screening takes place from 7-9 p.m. and includes a discussion with Buba. The event is free and open to the public.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: June 2017 Edition

Churchill – Hollywood Theater & Manor Theatre

churchill_poster

In June 1944, Allied Forces stand on the brink: a million soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe. One man stands in their way: Winston Churchill (Brian Cox). Fearful of repeating, on his disastrous command, the mass slaughter of 1915, when over 500,000 soldiers were killed on the beaches of Gallipoli. Exhausted by years of war and plagued by depression, Churchill is a shadow of the hero who has resisted Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Should the D-Day landings fail, he is terrified he’ll be remembered as the architect of carnage. Only the unflinching support of Churchill’s brilliant, unflappable wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) can halt the Prime Minister’s physical and mental collapse. Churchill opens on June 2 at the Hollywood Theater and on June 5 at the Manor Theatre.

My Cousin Rachel – Manor Theatre

My-Cousin-Rachel-poster-manor

Rachel Weisz stars in the dark romantic story of a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms. My Cousin Rachel opens on June 9 at the Manor Theatre.

I, Daniel Blake – Regent Square Theater

i-daniel-blake-poster

The new film by British filmmaker Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. In it, 59-year-old Daniel Blake has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, for the first time ever, he needs help from the State. He crosses paths with single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain. I, Daniel Blake opens on June 16 at the Regent Square Theater.

The Transfiguration – Hollywood Theater

Transfiguration_poster

Writer/director Michael O’Shea’s chilling, atmospheric debut feature follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. The Transfiguration opens on June 16 at the Hollywood Theater.

Row House Cinema Presents Pittsburgh Premiere Of ‘David Lynch: The Art Life’

David Lynch-row house

David Lynch: The Art Life 

Since he broke onto the scene in 1977 with his ultra-bizarre experimental film Eraserhead, David Lynch has remained one of cinema’s most eccentric personalities both on and off screen (check out what he did for his long-time muse, Laura Dern). Now fans will get to see what shaped this curious visionary when Row House Cinema presents the Pittsburgh premiere of David Lynch: The Art Life.

The documentary from Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard looks at Lynch’s art, music, and films, shining a light into the dark corners of his unique world and giving audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist. Shot over a four-year span, the film offers private views from Lynch’s compound and painting studio in the hills high above Hollywood, as he tells personal stories that informed his early works.

David Lynch: The Art Life screens from May 26-June 1 as part of The Artistry of David Lynch week.

Hollywood Theater Celebrates ‘Star Wars’ Milestone With ‘5-25-77’

52577

5-25-77

The late-1970s was a magical time for American film, with directors like Steven Spielberg spurring the blockbuster age and shaping generations of cinephiles. But on May 25, 1977, George Lucas created a massive pop culture phenomenon with the release of his epic space opera Star Wars. On May 25, the Hollywood Theater will mark the 40th anniversary of the influential hit with the Pittsburgh premiere of 5-25-77.

Writer/director Patrick Read Johnson spins a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age tale about an aspiring young filmmaker (John Francis Daley of Freaks and Geeks) growing up in 1970s rural Illinois, falling in love, and becoming the first fan of Star Wars.

5-25-77 begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8-10.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: May 2017 Edition

Risk – Hollywood Theater

risk-poster

Filmed over six years including through the 2016 presidential election and up to the present moment, Risk takes viewers closer than they have ever been before to Julian Assange and those who surround him. With unprecedented access, director Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) captures the WikiLeaks story from the inside, allowing viewers to understand the current era of massive leaks, headline-grabbing news, and the revolutionary impact of the internet on global politics. Risk opens on May 12 at the Hollywood Theater.

Hounds of Love – Harris Theater

Hounds-of-Love-movie-Poster

The debut from writer/director Ben Young takes place in suburban Perth during the mid-1980s, where people are unaware that women are disappearing at the hands of serial killer couple John and Evelyn White. After an innocent lapse in judgment, Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted by the disturbed couple. With her murder imminent, Vicki realizes she must find a way to drive a wedge between Evelyn and John if she is to survive. Hounds of Love opens on May 19 at the Harris Theater.

The Lovers – Manor Theatre

the-lovers-poster

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married and completely dispassionate husband and wife. Both are in the midst of serious affairs and are increasingly committed to their new partners. But on the brink of officially calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly and unexpectedly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance that forces them to navigate the hilarious complications of “cheating” on their respective lovers. The Lovers opens on May 19 at the Manor Theatre.

Norman – Regent Square Theater

norman-poster

A small-time operator named Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) befriends a young politician at a low and lonely moment in his life. Three years later when that politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman’s life dramatically changes. For better. And for worse. Norman opens on May 19 at the Regent Square Theater.

Alternate Histories Presents The Sounds Of Sci-Fi With New Project

plan-9-hollywood

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Pittsburgh artist Matthew Buchholz has embarked on his share of bizarre experiments, from his year with Hitchcock to printing pocket-sized editions of notoriously bad B-movie scripts. Now he’s venturing into unexplored territory with Forbidden Sounds for a Future Age, a vinyl album consisting of clips from classic and not-so-classic sci-fi movies from the 1950s and 1960s.

althist

Forbidden Sounds for a Future Age album art/Courtesy of Matthew Buchholz

“This is something completely new for me,” Buchholz said in a press release. “And it’s an idea I’ve been contemplating for a long time. All of my work up until now has been printed: art pieces, greeting cards, a calendar, even a full-length book. I’m nervous but excited to explore the world of sound.”

Launched through Buchholz’s Alternate Histories brand, the album will include clips from films such as The Phantom of 10,000 Leagues (1955), Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), Mesa of Lost Women (1953) and Ed Wood Jr’s Bride of the Monster (1955) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959).

To help get the project off the ground, Buchholz enlisted the skills of co-producer Madeleine Campbell, a sound engineer, educator and founder of Accessible Recording, an upcoming studio and learning space focused on amplifying voices of artists and groups underrepresented in professional audio. He also successfully completed a Kickstarted campaign meant to cover the cost of producing and printing a vinyl album.

Row House Cinema Declares Independence With ‘The Mutineer’

mutineer

The Mutineer

On April 29, Row House Cinema will spotlight a Pittsburgh-made film with the premiere of The Mutineer.

The independent feature film from writer/producer/director John Jaquish follows a group of criminals who, while fleeing a gun possession charge, take over a farm in rural Appalachia and try to secede from the United States. The film, which was shot in West Virginia on black-and-white 35mm film, used an all-Pittsburgh crew, as well as some local acting talent.

The Mutineer premiere takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7. The screening includes appearances by Jaquish along with a number of cast and crew members.