Hollywood Theater Presents Indie Horror Hits For Janu-Scary

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The Eyes of My Mother/Courtesy of Magnet Releasing

The Hollywood Theater will finish off the month with Janu-Scary, a selection of five independent horror films from the US and around the world. See details and schedule below:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

In the latest from director Andre Ovredal (Trollhunter), coroner Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) run a family-owned morgue and crematorium in Virginia. When the local Sheriff brings in a dead Jane Doe it seems like just another open-and-shut case. But as the autopsy proceeds, Tommy and Austin discover that her insides have been scarred, charred and dismembered — seemingly the victim of a horrific yet mysterious ritualistic torture. As they piece together these gruesome discoveries, an unnatural force takes hold of the crematorium. While a violent storm rages above ground, it seems the real horrors lie on the inside.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe screens at 7 p.m. from January 31February 2.

The Eyes of My Mother 

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The Eyes of My Mother/Courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Set in a secluded farmhouse and shot in crisp black and white, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s feature debut follows a mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, as she teaches her daughter, Francisca, to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death. One afternoon, a mysterious visitor horrifyingly shatters the idyll of Francisca’s family life, deeply traumatizing the young girl, but also awakening some unique curiosities. Though she clings to her increasingly reticent father, Francisca’s loneliness and scarred nature converge years later when her longing to connect with the world around her takes on a distinctly dark form.

The Eyes of My Mother screens at 7 p.m. from January 27January 30.

Under the Shadow

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Under the Shadow

Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment.

Under the Shadow screens at 7 p.m. from January 29February 1.

The Void

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The Void

In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it’s too late.

The Void screens at 7 p.m. on January 28.

We Are the Flesh

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We Are the Flesh

A young brother and sister, roaming an apocalyptic city, take refuge in the dilapidated lair of a strange hermit. He puts them to work building a bizarre cavernous structure, where he acts out his insane and depraved fantasies. Trapped in this maddening womb-like world under his malign influence, they find themselves sinking into the realms of dark and forbidden behavior. A visionary and bizarre slice of Mexican arthouse cinema, We Are The Flesh is an extraordinary and unsettling film experience, a sexually charged and nightmarish journey into an otherworldly dimension of carnal desire and excess, as well as a powerful allegory on the corrupting power of human desire.

We Are the Flesh screens at 9 p.m. from January 27February 2.

Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door. Guests can also buy a $30 festival pass for all five films.

Chatham University Showcases Environmental Docs During Speaker Series

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Weedeater

Chatham University will highlight leaders in sustainability and environmentalism during their latest spring Falk School of Sustainability & Environment speaker series. As part of the lineup, the school will feature two documentaries. See schedule and details below:

January 24

3:30 p.m.

Weedeater

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A self-described “steward of the earth,” Nance Klehm has built a reputation among environmentalists as an ecological systems designer, a permacultural grower, a horticultural consultant, and a teacher and speaker. Weedeater trots alongside Klehm through various landscapes, gathering together a collection of her thoughts and philosophies on everything from wild, uncultivated weeds to human waste composting to soil. The film attempts to sketch Klehm’s character as well as reflect the depth and complexity of her intimate relationship with the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Includes a talk by Klehm.

March 3

3:30 p.m.

Power of One Voice

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The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson examines Carson’s legacy and the continuing implications of her environmental work. The documentary pulls insights from a variety of speakers at the 50th-anniversary celebration of her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.

Includes a discussion with Patti DeMarco, former director of Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute.

Both events take place at the Esther Barazzone Center on Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus.

Row House Cinema Presents Obscure Studio Ghibli Film ‘Ocean Waves’

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Ocean Waves/Courtesy of GKIDS

On January 17, Row House Cinema will bring a little known Studio Ghibli gem to Pittsburgh when they present the 4K restoration of Tomomi Mochizuki‘s 1993 anime drama Ocean Waves.

Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.

The Ocean Waves sneak preview begins at 7:45 p.m. Tickets cost $9 and are available for purchase online at the door.

Row House Cinema Welcomes Heinz History Center For ‘Bread And Tulips’

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Bread and Tulips

For decades, the Italian American Program at the Heinz History Center has worked to preserve and interpret the history and culture of Italian Americans in Western Pennsylvania. On January 10, the program will continue its mission with a special movie event.

The Heinz History Center will present a screening of the 2000 Italian romantic comedy Bread and Tulips at Row House Cinema. After being left behind during a family vacation, Rosalba (Licia Maglietta), an unhappy housewife, decides to start a new life in Venice. She finds room and board with Fernando (Bruno Ganz), a charming maître d’, and they soon fall in love. Meanwhile, Rosalba’s husband hires a private detective to look for her. Although the relationship between Fernando and Rosalba grows stronger, she is forced to return home. But will Fernando rescue her?

Bread and Tulips begins at 7:30 p.m. Guests can also hear about the Italian American Program and take part in a pasta guessing game for a chance to win four Heinz History Center passes. Tickets cost $9. The screening is presented as part of Row House’s Italian Cinema week.

Mr. Roboto Project Presents A Night Of Horror For Halloween In January

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Night of the Living Dead

The holidays are over, which means it’s time to get back to business – horror business. On January 7, the Mr. Roboto Project will present Halloween In January, a night of frights, fun and food for a good cause. See the complete screening schedule and details below:

6 p.m.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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Director George A. Romero created a cultural phenomenon with this Pittsburgh original about a group of survivors trapped in abandoned farmhouse by undead hordes hungry for human flesh.

7:45 p.m.

Intermission

8:15 p.m.

Last Man on Earth (1964)

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This early film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend stars Vincent Price as a doctor living in a world where an epidemic has transformed the human race into zombie vampires. This screening will feature the colorized version of the film.

9:45 p.m.

Intermission

10:15 p.m.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

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Christopher Lee plays Count Dracula one last time in this Hammer horror selection about the dark prince’s plans to unleash a deadly plague on 1970s London. Peter Cushing also stars as a descendent of Dr. Van Helsing.

Doors for Halloween In January open at 5 p.m. The event includes free popcorn and drinks. Admission is a $5-10 rolling donation. All proceeds benefit the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: January 2017 Edition

Goodnight Brooklyn ­- The Story of Death By Audio – Hollywood Theater

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The feature-length film brings viewers inside the last underground venue for music and art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood once defined by its cultural contributions to the city of New York. It chronicles the origins, community­-building, influence, and ultimate closure of one of Brooklyn’s best DIY venues, ironically at the hands of a former champion of their efforts. Goodnight Brooklyn ­- The Story of Death By Audio opens on January 6 at the Hollywood Theater.

Silence – Regent Square Theater

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The latest feature from Martin Scorsese tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) — at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden. The celebrated director’s 28-year journey to bring Shusaku Endo’s 1966 acclaimed novel to life. Silence opens on January 13 at Harris Theater.

20th Century Women – Manor Theatre

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Acclaimed filmmaker Mike Mills presents a richly multilayered celebration of the complexities of women, family, time, and the connections we search for our whole lives. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, the film follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann) at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women in Jamie’s upbringing — via Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home, and Julie (Elle Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor. 20th Century Women opens on January 20 at the Manor Theatre.

Elle – Harris Theater

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When Michelle (Isabelle Huppert), the CEO of a gaming software company, is attacked in her home by an unknown assailant, she refuses to let it alter her precisely ordered life. She manages crises involving her 75-year-old sex kitten mother, her imprisoned mass murderer father, her spoiled and immature son, her ex-husband and her lover, all with the same icy equanimity. This is the approach she brings to the situation when it appears that her assailant is not finished with her. As the mysterious stalker hovers in the shadows of her life, taunting her, Michelle cooly stalks him back. What emerges between Michelle and her stalker is a kind of game, a game that soon spirals out of control. Elle opens on January 20 at the Regent Square Theater.

Paterson – Manor Theatre

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Paterson (Adam Driver), a New Jersey bus driver, adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, observing the city as it drifts across his windshield and overhearing fragments of conversation swirling around him. He writes poetry into a notebook. He walks his dog. He stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer. He goes home to his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily, each a different and inspired project. The latest feature from Jim Jarmusch quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details. Paterson opens on January 27 at the Manor Theatre.

Hitchcock 52 Swoops In For ‘North By Northwest’ At Row House Cinema

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Cary Grant in North by Northwest

Local artist Matthew Buchholz is best known for his movie-inspired pop art business Alternate Histories. While his work displays a fascination with Godzilla, King Kong, and 1950s space invaders, he decided to return to his more high-brow film roots with Hitchcock 52, a year-long project dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock.

“My background is in film production and criticism and I’d been feeling that I was getting away from my love of movies,” says Buchholz, an NYU film school grad who managed the BAMcinématek program for almost seven years before moving to Pittsburgh. “I wanted to do something that got me thinking and writing critically, and Alfred Hitchcock was my first real film obsession.”

When Buchholz realized Hitchcock made 52 feature films – excluding the auteur’s lost 1927 work The Mountain Eagle – the synergy “was too good to ignore.” Starting last January, he set about watching one film per week and writing about it. He completes his monumental task on December 30 at Row House Cinema, where he will present a screening of North by Northwest.

The 1959 thriller stars Cary Grant as a New York ad exec forced to go on the run after a case of mistaken identity makes him the target of a mysterious organization. Regarded by scholars and critics as one of the greatest American films of all time, it became notable for its ambitious use of setting – including the famed crop duster scene and the iconic Mount Rushmore finale – and laying the groundwork for modern action thrillers.

“It’s my favorite Hitchcock movie and probably my favorite film of all time, so I’m always looking for a reason to watch it on the big screen,” says Buchholz.

Though North by Northwest is the last Hitchcock 52 selection, it’s not the director’s final film (that title goes to the 1976 dark comedy Family Plot). Buchholz explains that he chose to watch Hitchcock’s films out of chronological order to keep the experience more interesting for himself and for the reader.

“I felt it would be better to jump around and when possible and compare and contrast movies like the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much and the 1956 remake,” says Buchholz. “Beyond that, it was often based on my whim and what I felt like watching that week.”

Hitchcock 52 allowed him to take a more balanced approach to analyzing the work of a director often regarded with blind reverence. Even as he praises Hitchcock’s enduring brilliance, he also takes a step back to point out flaws or moments that fail to stand the test of time.

He also deals with the uncomfortable aspects of Hitchcock, who has frequently garnered criticism for his depictions of women, people of color, and characters coded as gay or transgender. In one Hitchcock 52 post, Buccholz touches on the glaring homophobia displayed in the 1929 film Murder! and relates it to the director’s frequent attempts at exploring sexuality “in a shocking and provocative manner.”

“You can argue that Hitchcock provided some of the most sympathetic portraits of coded gay characters to be seen before 1960,” he writes. “But virtually all of his ‘gay’ characters (Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, the Leopold & Loeb-like duo of Rope, Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train, and Leonard in North by Northwest) fall into the ‘deviant sexuality’ camp; they’re villains who commit or attempt murder and are caught and punished.”

In his most recent post on The Birds, Buchholz even confronts his own hypocrisy when it comes to actress Tippi Hedren, whose long-held claims that Hitchcock sexually assaulted her during production on Marnie resurfaced in her recently released memoir.

“I admit that, because of my idolization of Hitchcock, I overlooked Hedren’s accusations in the past, in part because Hedren is the only actress to ever make these claims,” says Buchholz. “But reading her book, and seeing how respectful she still is to him, it makes me think that something must have happened. Because why would I believe the women who say these things about Woody Allen and Bill Cosby but not Hitchcock? It’s disappointing, obviously, and I’m wrestling with my feelings in [The Birds] essay.”

While Buchholz says he enjoyed doing the project, he doubts he will pursue another one like it.

“Surprisingly, while I thought it would reignite my critical passion, it’s actually driven me back to thinking more creatively, and trying to find a way to write or make movies,” says Buchholz. “It’s impossible to spend so long with someone so talented and not be inspired.”

The Hitchcock 52 screening of North by Northwest begins at 7:35 p.m. with an introduction by Buchholz. He will briefly discuss the Hitchcock 52 project, what he has learned, and why North by Northwest is his favorite Hitchcock film. Tickets cost $9 and are available for purchase at the Row House website or at the door.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: December 2016 Edition

The Handmaiden – Regent Square Theater

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Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, Stoker) presents a gripping and sensual tale of two women – a young Japanese Lady living on a secluded estate, and a Korean woman who is hired to serve as her new handmaiden, but is secretly plotting with a conman to defraud her of a large inheritance. Inspired by the novel Fingersmith by British author Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden borrows the most dynamic elements of its source material and combines it with Chan-wook’s singular vision to create an unforgettable viewing experience. The Handmaiden opens on December 9 at Regent Square Theater.

Tower – Harris Theater

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On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, Tower reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others. Tower opens on December 9 at the Harris Theater.

Evolution – Harris Theater

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Ten-year-old Nicolas (Max Brebant) lives in a remote seaside village populated only by boys his age and adult women. But when he makes a disturbing discovery beneath the ocean waves—a dead boy with a red starfish on his stomach—Nicolas begins to question everything about his existence. The new film from writer-director Lucile Hadzihalilovic is awash in the haunting, otherworldly images of a nightmare. Evolution opens on December 26 at the Harris Theater.

[Interview] Anna Biller Discusses ‘The Love Witch’

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Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Filmmaker Anna Biller has created quite the buzz with her second feature The Love Witch, a horror-thriller about magic, madness, and murder. Described as a “tribute to 1960s Technicolor thrillers” that “explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism,” the film follows Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a modern-day witch who uses spells and potions to get men to fall in love with her. The work has garnered critical praise for its sumptuous throwback style and bold take on feminism, as well as for Robinson’s strong breakout performance.

It’s also been touted as a treat for cinema buffs that recalls the style of French filmmaker Jacques Demy, 1960s sexploitation films, and Hammer horror.

As The Love Witch prepares to make its Pittsburgh premiere at the Hollywood Theater, Biller talked to Steel Cinema about the film’s personal significance, her extremely varied cinema diet, and having total creative control.


What inspired you to make The Love Witch?

It was a lot of things. I always like to make films about interior female experience, and I thought the figure of the witch was a good vehicle for that since the witch is a figure of so much projection and hysteria. I also was going through a rough period in my personal life, and I wanted to put that feeling of personal heartbreak on the screen. I joke that the movie is an autobiography, but people who know me well know that that’s really not that much of a joke! It’s a film that combines many aspects of my personal life, and it’s very coded.

You said in an interview that you’re influenced by Pre-Code Hollywood films and exploitation films of the 1960s and 70s. What about their style and themes resonate with you?

Well, I don’t think that I said I was interested in exploitation films; that’s what everyone else says. I did look at one exploitation film in preparation for the film – Mantis in Lace – but that film deals with similar themes as The Love Witch and was shot by the great László Kovács. I do like some of the color of giallo films, but I wasn’t watching giallo films to prepare for this movie — I was watching Hollywood Technicolor films, especially [Alfred] Hitchcock.

The themes that interest me most are from Pre-Code and noir films, because they’re often about women getting by in a man’s world. I’m not interested in misogynistic films, even when they’re visually arresting. My brain just sort of shuts down when women are being grossly objectified and especially when they’re being senselessly murdered. So I’m not into Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for instance, which is a film people often insist I was influenced by. I’m much more influenced by a film like [Carl Theodor] Dreyer’s Gertrud, which has the same theme my film has of a woman being disappointed with the men in her life who fail to love her properly, or a film like John Brahm’s The Locket, which is about discovering the roots of a woman’s psychopathology.

Are there other films or filmmakers you’re influenced by?

My first loves in cinema were the old Hollywood musicals, noir films, Pre-Code films, dramas, and screwball comedies. Later I came to appreciate foreign cinema, especially European and Japanese cinema. My parents were cinephiles, so as a child I was taken to films in the theater such as Murder in the Cathedral or The Seven Samurai or Satyricon, as well as nitrate prints of films such as Dames and Gold Diggers of 1933. All of that had a huge influence on my later tastes.

How do you maintain your own style while still paying homage to a certain era of filmmaking?

What I would say is that using classic cinematography and design techniques is my style. I was bottle-fed on classic films and they’ve always been part of my DNA. I don’t set out to create a retro look actually, or to pay homage to the past. I’m always just trying to learn my craft better, and I learn it from the films I love best, which are mostly from a few decades ago.

You occupy a lot of roles in your films, including directing, producing, writing, editing, and scoring, right down to costuming. What do you find the most challenging?

I think composing music is the most challenging since I have the least experience in it. I sometimes wish I had more than one life so I could spend 100 percent of one of my lives just studying music. But design is always the most difficult in terms of just how insanely time consuming it is. I would say that on any given film, I spend 90 percent of the time designing and making things, and 10 percent on everything else. The most difficult thing technically is the writing.

It’s probably no coincidence that, given our current political and social climate, empowered or resilient female characters are becoming more prominent in film right now. Where do you think The Love Witch fits in this new wave?

Just within the past week, since the election, The Love Witch has suddenly become more relevant. I used to get reactions from people where they’d think gender was an irrelevant thing to talk about since we’ve already achieved gender equality. Now suddenly everyone sees the enormous significance of the gender issues in the film, and that they are not obsolete but extremely timely. I’ve been creating these types of female characters in films for years, but it’s only now that people are taking that seriously, which is fantastic.

Hollywood has banked on emerging indie filmmakers for a lot of projects lately. If you were ever approached for a big-budget film, do you think you’d accept? If so, what would you want to direct?

If someone wanted to hire me to direct a big budget film, I’d probably demand to write the script and to get final cut. But it’s a very abstract question, since without knowing the specifics of an offer I can’t really answer how I’d respond.

The main question for me is the question of control. No one wants to spend their time doing something when they’re not going to like the final result. So I’d have to have a lot of control to have it work for me or work with people with similar artistic goals.


The Love Witch opens on November 18 at the Hollywood Theater. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door. Showtimes will continue through November 23.

Three Rivers Film Festival Returns With New Management And Broader Scope

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Always Shine

Last summer, two Pittsburgh cultural organizations – Film Pittsburgh (formerly JFilm) and Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PF/PCA) – joined forces to produce the Three Rivers Film Festival (3RFF). Sponsored by Dollar Bank, the 35-year-old annual event is considered the oldest and largest film festival in the region. An official press release stated that JFilm and PF/PCA aimed to transform 3RFF into “a highly visible event, generating more awareness of the festival’s rich offerings, promoting tourism to the city, and helping to elevate the art form of independent cinema within Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape.”

That transformation begins with this year’s 3RFF, which takes place from November 1620, and offers 31 films at venues throughout the city.

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The Freedom to Marry

The festival opens with the Pittsburgh premiere of director Eddie Rosenstein‘s work The Freedom to Marry. Presented in collaboration with Reel Q, and supported in part by the ACLU – PA, the documentary shows how, over the last four decades, the same-sex marriage has gone from a “preposterous notion” to one of the most successful civil rights campaigns in the world. Largely focused on Pittsburgh native and marriage equality pioneer Evan Wolfson, the War Room-style film captures the final frenetic months of the movement’s Supreme Court legal battle.

The screening takes place at 7 p.m. at the August Wilson Center. The evening will also feature a post-screening reception and conversation with Rosenstein and Wolfson.

The schedule includes other films making their Pittsburgh debuts, including director Sophia Takal‘s female-led thriller Always Shine, David Byrne‘s musical tribute to color guard Contemporary Color, and Robert Greene‘s experimental nonfiction film Kate Plays Christine.

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Kate Lyn Sheil in Kate Plays Christine/Courtesy of Grasshopper Film

The latter follows actress Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards, The Girlfriend Experience, Listen Up Philip) as she prepares to play Christine Chubbuck, a real-life Florida newscaster who committed suicide live on-air in 1974. As Sheil investigates Chubbuck’s story, she uncovers new clues and information, and becomes increasingly obsessed with her subject. The film went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

3RFF will also highlight films from around the world, including the Polish film Blindness, the Swiss-German family film Heidi, and the Spanish-language biopic-narrative hybrid Neruda. Also featured is the UK film Trespass Against Us, an intense drama that stars Michael Fassbender as an outlaw at odds with his crime boss father, played by veteran actor Brendan Gleeson.

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Trespass Against Us

The lineup will also showcase a selection of short films, a double-feature looking at independent filmmaking in Pittsburgh, and a special presentation of the newly restored German silent film Varieté. Made in 1925, the story of a seedy ex-trapeze artist who abandons his family for an exotic dancer offers high-flying cinematography and pre-Code sexuality. Its 3RFF premiere will include live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra.

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Varieté

Click here for the complete 3RFF schedule and details. Tickets for regular screenings cost $12, $8 for students 26 and under with valid ID. Special pricing applies to the opening night screening and the Varieté screening. All tickets are available for purchase online or at the door.