‘Bigfoot The Movie’ Stomps Into Waterfront Premiere

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Pittsburgh celebrities will find themselves in a hairy situation when Bigfoot the Movie hits area theaters. On May 28th, the locally produced film will screen at AMC Loews Waterfront for an exclusive premiere event.

The feature debut from writer/director Jared Show pits three Pittsburgh yinzers against the legendary Bigfoot. The film – which was shot and set in Ellwood City, PA – stars Curt Wootton (Pittsburgh Dad), Joanie Dodds (America’s Next Top Model), comedian Jim Krenn, WPXI news anchor Darieth Chisolm, and many others.

The Bigfoot the Movie premiere will take place at 7 p.m. The evening will also include appearances by the cast and crew and a raffle. Guests can also purchase film merchandise, such as Blu-rays, DVDs, posters, and t-shirts. An after party at Dukes Upper Deck will follow. Tickets are $20 and are available online. Bigfoot the Movie will officially release on May 29th.

In Medias Res Breaks Down Gas Drilling With ‘Triple Divide’

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Built in 1926, the long-abandoned Paramount Film Exchange (PFEX) sat unused along on Pittsburgh once vibrant film row, only to recently re-emerge as a reconfigured, renovated historic landmark. On May 28th, the space will return to its cinematic roots when In Medias Res, a multimedia artist collective focused on producing progressive cinematic media, hosts a screening of Triple Divide, a documentary about the growing concerns surrounding the Pennsylvania gas boom.

The first feature-length film from Public Herald, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative journalism in the public interest, looks at the inevitable, negative impacts from shale gas industrial development and how those impacts are handled by the state, specifically the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Narrated with help from actor and solutions advocate Mark Ruffalo, major findings include stark negligence and endangerment of public and environmental health due to shale gas extraction. Through personal stories, expert interviews, and investigation of state case files, Triple Divide tells a cautionary tale about a public agency meant to protect the public and environment that is instead protecting industry. Though extraction of shale gas will one day end, taking many ‘boom and bust’ jobs with it, contaminated groundwater aquifers, polluted land, and stories of victimization will remain. Pennsylvanians, fed up with corruption and destruction, won’t go down without a fight and are learning how to protect themselves.

Doors for the Triple Divide screening will open at 6:30 p.m. followed by the film at 7 p.m. The event will also include refreshments and a directors’ Q&A. Admission is free. Those interested in attending can RSVP at Eventbrite.

Rabbit Wranglers Finds ‘Holy Grail’ At Row House Cinema

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Since 2010, Rabbit Wranglers has worked to rescue abused, neglected and abandoned rabbits, and to educate the public on the benefits and demands of keeping these furry companion animals as pets. On May 16th, the Pittsburgh-based organization will celebrate five years in operation with a viewing party at Row House Cinema.

The anniversary event will feature a screening of the classic 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which follows King Arthur and his noble knights as they embark on a perilous quest for the mythical Holy Grail. The low-budget film – which stars Monty Python members Graham ChapmanJohn Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones in various roles – is known for its many outrageously funny moments, including one with a killer rabbit.

The Rabbit Wranglers Five Year Anniversary Viewing Party will begin at 4 p.m. Monty Python and the Holy Grail screens at 5 p.m. The event also includes raffles and festivities at the adjoining Atlas Bottle Works. Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase online or at the door.

Conflict Kitchen Serves Up Pittsburgh Palestinian Film Festival

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Last year, Conflict Kitchen, a take-out restaurant known for its socially conscious cuisine, received national attention for serving Palestinian food. The move, which includes wrappers bearing text from interviews “conducted with Palestinians living in both Palestine and the United States,” sparked controversy and even incited death threats. Undeterred, the establishment has taken its mission of promoting thoughtful public discourse a step further by presenting the Pittsburgh Palestinian Film Festival, a three-day program of contemporary, genre-spanning independent cinema exploring the diversity of the Palestinian experience. The event is co-hosted by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee, and B 52. See film schedule and details below:

May 14th

8 p.m.

5 Broken Cameras (2011)

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The first-ever Palestinian film nominated for an Oscar in Best Documentary Feature, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. The film was shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat – who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel – and co-directed by Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker. Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the work follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank. 5 Broken Cameras will screen at the Regent Square Theater. Tickets are $10.

May 15th

8 p.m.

Divine Intervention (2002)

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In this darkly comic masterpiece, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman utilizes irreverence, wit, mysticism, and insight to craft an intense, hallucinogenic, and extremely adept exploration of the dreams and nightmares of Palestinians and Israelis living in uncertain times. Subtitled A Chronicle of Love and Pain, Divine Intervention follows ES, a character played by and clearly based upon the filmmaker himself. ES is burdened with a sick father, a stalled screenplay, and an unrequited love affair with a beautiful Palestinian woman (Manal Khader) living in Ramallah. An Israeli checkpoint on the Nazareth-Ramallah road forces the couple to rendezvous in an adjacent parking lot. Their relationship and the absurd situations around them serve as metaphors for the lunacy of larger cultural problems. The result is a palpable rage that is both personal and political. Divine Intervention will screen at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is a $10 suggested donation.

May 16th

8 p.m.

The Dinner (2012)

The 20-minute short – one of four works included in the omnibus documentary feature Family Albums – focuses on its director Mais Darwazeh, who lives alone. In Amman, a city of uprooted people, her father telling of his memories of Palestine, people longing for places not easily remembered. She creates her own identity by gathering around her table close friends, chosen ingredients, and old recipes. A discussion with Darwazeh will follow the screening.

When I Saw You (2012)

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The feature film from director Annemarie Jacir takes place in 1967 Jordan. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. Eventually his free spirit and curious nature lead him to a group of people on a journey that will change their lives.

The Dinner and When I Saw You are free and will screen in Schenley Plaza. Conflict Kitchen will provide food until 9 p.m.

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Hollywood Theater Throws Birthday Bash With Tom Atkins

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In 2011, after multiple short-lived reopenings, the historic Hollywood Theater was finally reborn with the help of the surrounding Dormont community. On May 9th, the nonprofit theater will celebrate four years in business with a birthday celebration and screening.

The evening will feature special guest Tom Atkins (Creepshow, The Fog) and a brand new digital transfer of his film Escape from New York. Atkins had a supporting role in the 1981 cult thriller, which takes place in a futuristic world where Manhattan serves as a maximum security prison for the overwhelming criminal population. When Air Force One crashes on the island, and the President of the United States (Donald Pleasence) is captured, the government gives ex-soldier and outlaw Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) 24 hours to save the day. But for Snake, the mission comes with the price – succeed, and his crimes are all pardoned. Fail, and an explosive device in his neck will detonate and kill him.

The event will also include live music by The Retro Agents, hors d’oeuvres, birthday cake, beer and wine, and an auction with prizes such as Penguins box seats, a private night at the theater, and much more.

The Hollywood Theater birthday party and fundraiser will begin 6 p.m. A conversation with Atkins will take place at 7:30 p.m., followed by Escape from New York at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door ($12 advance, $15 at the door for members) and are available for purchase at Showclix. Price includes two drink tickets.

2015 Russian Film Symposium Revisits Key Moments Of Soviet Past

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The University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers will present the 17th annual Russian Film Symposium from May 4th through May 9th. Under the title Red Empire Reloaded, the event promises to examine how, over the past 25 years, Russian cinema has been marked by the dominance of feature films, many of which are dramatic interpretations of the major events of Soviet rule. The symposium will also bring well-recognized scholars and critics working in Russian film. See schedule and details below:

May 4th

10 a.m.

Cuckoo (2002)

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As the Nazis prepare to pull out of Finland, a young Finnish conscript is left chained to a rock in Lapland, instructed to kill as many Russian soldiers as he can before he dies. Freeing himself, he makes his way to a farm where a widowed Lapp woman is nursing an injured Russian officer back to health. Despite the lack of a common language between any of them, the two men form an uneasy trust for each other and a strong shared attraction for their unlikely caregiver.

2 p.m.

First on the Moon (2005)

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Director Aleksei Fedorchenko‘s mockumentary follows a group of journalists who uncover a sensational story: that even before the Second World War, in 1938, the first rocket was made in the USSR and Soviet scientists were planning to send an orbiter to the moon and back.

May 5th

10 a.m.

Star (2002)

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Director Nikolai Lebedev’s Star is the second film adaptation of the eponymous short story by Emmanuil Kazakevich about a group of Soviet scouts working behind German lines during World War II.

2 p.m.

Harvest Time (2003)

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The debut feature film by Marina Razbezhkina tells the story of Antonina, a combine operator in a small Russian village who supports her amputee husband and their two small boys. Her family begins to fall apart, however, when Antonina receives a special award for her work.

May 6th

10 a.m.

Franz + Polina (2006)

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Set in 1943, Mikhail Segal‘s romantic war drama tells the story of Franz, an SS soldier who deserts, and Polina, a Belarusian woman whose village is massacred.

2:30 p.m.

Round table discussion featuring Russian film scholars Nancy Condee and Anton Dolin.

7:30 p.m.

Fragment of an Empire (1929)

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Director Fridrikh Ermler‘s silent Soviet film follows a man who loses his memory during the Russian Revolution and regains it 10 years later in St. Petersburg. The screening will feature live musical accompaniment.

May 7th

10 a.m.

Stalingrad (2013)

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Director Fedor Bondarchuk‘s WWII epic follows a band of Russian soldiers who fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and, in the process, become deeply connected to a Russian woman who has been living there. Stalingrad is noted for being the highest grossing Russian film of all time and the first one shot in 3D.

7:30 p.m.

Test (2014)

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The story surrounding the first nuclear bomb test conducted in Semipalatinsk in 1949 follows a girl named Dina who lives with her father, Tolgat, in an isolated house in the Central Asian steppe.

May 8th

10 a.m.

Escape from Afghanistan (1994)

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Loosely based on the so-called Badaber Uprising, the film from Timur Bekmambetov and Gennadii Kaiumov – which was originally titled The Peshawar Waltz – follows several Soviet and Afghan POWs who revolt and take over a military fortress.

2 p.m.

The Thief (1997)

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The harsh realities of a post-WWII Soviet Union are seen through the eyes of Sania, a six-year-old boy whose widowed mother falls in love with a charming criminal.

7:30 p.m.

 Ordered to Forget (2014)

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Banned at the 2014 Moscow International Film Festival, the film follows a young couple who witness a horrifying war crime during Stalin’s mass deportation of Chechen and Ingush people in 1944.

May 9th

11 a.m.

Roundtable discussion featuring Russian film scholars Vladimir Padunov and Valeriia Gorelova.

7:30 p.m.

The Hope Factory (2013/14)

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The debut film from director Nataliia Meshchaninova tells the story of 17-year-old Svetlana, who dreams of leaving her bleak hometown of Norilsk.

Daytime panels and screenings are free and will take place on Pitt’s campus at 1500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall. Evening screenings will take place at Melwood Screening Room and are $8 regular admission, $7 for seniors and students, $4 for Pitt and Art Institute students.

Does This Hold Up Uses Force On ‘Star Wars’ Mega Super Show

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The newest edition to the Star Wars franchise won’t hit theaters until Christmas, but on May 1st, fans can get their fix of the space opera when Does This Hold Up? takes on A New Hope.

The local podcast will celebrate their 100th show with a live extravaganza focused around the iconic 1977 film. Written and directed by George Lucas, the sci-fi classic introduced the battle between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and inspired enough media, merchandise, and nerd veneration to fill an entire galaxy.

The Star Wars Mega Super Show will take place at 8 p.m. at the Arcade Comedy Theater, and feature commentary by area comedians Ryan Thompson, Alex Stypula, and Travis Walling, as well as games and prize giveaways hosted by Gio Attisano (Lust and Loathing) and Ed Bailey and Day Bracey (Drinking Partners). Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at Showclix or at the door. This event is BYOB.

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Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: May 2015 Edition

Hyena – Hollywood Theater

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Michael Logan (Peter Ferdinando) is a complex mix of high-functioning addict and corrupt police officer whose world is changing thanks to a recent influx of ruthless Albanian gangsters who are threatening to change London’s criminal landscape. Michael’s razor sharp instincts have always kept him one step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behaviour and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords find Michael in a spiralling descent of fear and self-doubt. Hyena opens on May 1st at the Hollywood Theater.

Misery Loves Comedy – Row House Cinema

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Kevin Pollak’s documentary focuses on over 60 funny people – including Amy Schumer, Jim Gaffigan, Judd Apatow, and Larry David – as they discuss the art of humor. The film features candid interviews, anecdotes, and insights from some of the most revered comedy greats to reveal a performer’s deep desire to connect with audiences. Misery Loves Comedy opens on May 1st at the Row House Cinema as part of their Documentary Week.

The Salt of the Earth – Regent Square Theater

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For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been traveling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project, which is a tribute to the planet’s beauty. Salgado’s life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, who went with him during his last travels, and by director Wim Wenders, himself a photographer. The Salt of the Earth opens on May 1st at the Regent Square Theater.

Wild Tales – Harris Theater

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Inequality, injustice and the demands of the world we live in cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. Vulnerable in the face of a reality that shifts and suddenly turns unpredictable, the characters in director Damián Szifroncross‘ dark comedy cross the thin line that divides civilization and barbarism. A lover’s betrayal, a return to the repressed past and the violence woven into everyday encounters drive the characters to madness as they cede to the undeniable pleasure of losing control. Wild Tales opens on May 8th at the Harris Theater.

Hollywood Theater Gets Artsy With ‘Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists’

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In the 1960s, the pop art movement introduced a wave of bold new talent, including Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol. On April 30th, the Hollywood Theater will examine another side of this influential creative era with the documentary Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists.

In the mid 1960s, Chicago was an incubator for an iconoclastic group of young artists. Collectively known as the Imagists, they showed in successive waves of exhibitions with monikers that might have been psychedelic rock bands of the era – Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some, False Image, Marriage Chicago Style. Kissing cousins to the contemporaneous international phenomenon of Pop Art, Chicago Imagism took its own weird, wondrous, in-your-face tack. Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, comical, and absurd, it celebrated a very different version of ‘popular’ from the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.

Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists will screen at 7:30 p.m. The event will include a brief introduction and a post-screening discussion. Tickets are available for advance purchase at Showclix.

Hollywood Theater Remembers Music Great With ‘Bayou Maharajah’

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On April 26th, the Hollywood Theater will present an exclusive screening of Bayou Maharajah, a film about one of music’s most colorful, and tragic characters.

The documentary from Lily Keber explores the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, the man Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” A brilliant pianist, his eccentricities and showmanship belied a life of struggle, prejudice, and isolation. A wild genius with a style that combined elements of rhythm-and-blues, jazz, ragtime and classical music, he gained the nicknames “Piano Prince of New Orleans”, “Black Liberace” and “Bayou Maharajah.” Illustrated with never-before-seen concert footage, rare personal photos and exclusive interviews, the film paints a portrait of this overlooked genius.

Bayou Maharajah will screen at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at Showclix.