Carnegie Screenwriters Launches Script & Screen Festival At Tull Family Theater

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The Tull Family Theater

From August 26-27Carnegie Screenwriters, a nonprofit group of tri-state writers, actors, and filmmakers, will hold their inaugural Script & Screen Festival. Hosted by the Tull Family Theater, the event will highlight scripts and short films from the Pittsburgh region and all over the globe, including works from Argentina, Iran, Russia, and The United Kingdom.

“Pittsburgh is very much a supportive community when it comes to filmmaking,” said festival director Wendy Grube in a press release. “We hope to bring more area film folks together through this event and encourage folks from other parts of the country and world to travel to the area, share their works and connect with our local filmmakers.”

The festival opens with a reception and seated script reading of three short scripts. Representing Pittsburgh is DIG by Robert Brian Taylor of Mount Lebanon. Also being presented are Giancarlo Fusi‘s Hell to Pay: The Legend of Robert Johnson, a story about the famous bluesman who allegedly sold his soul to the Devil, and Edward Santiago’s Western tale The Badge, the Gun and the Hangman’s Noose.

The following day will include a roster of films, all of which are under 20 minutes in length. Screenings will occur in 90-minute blocks followed by a short break and recognition of the attending filmmakers.

The reception and script readings will take place on August 26 at 6 p.m. Screenings will take place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on August 27. Tickets for the reception and screenings are available online or a the door.

Row House Uncovers A Curious Sport With Doc ‘Skips Stones For Fudge’

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Skips Stones For Fudge

Skipping stones usually conjures images of lazy summer afternoons spent by the lake. But for one very specific subculture, the act means so much more. On August 17, Row House Cinema explores how a fun pastime became a sport with the Pittsburgh premiere of Skips Stones For Fudge.

The documentary from directors Ryan Seitz and Daniel Skaggs capture the drama that occurs when the Zen art of stone skipping meets the competitive nature of mankind. Although the sport is relatively unknown to the masses, it is steeped in tradition, bitter rivalries and the constant pursuit for the Guinness World Record.

For over a decade, Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars and Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner have endured a rivalry that lifted competitive stone skipping to unthinkable heights. Tested by physical ailments, emotional hardships and the rise of young talent, these obscure legends fight to cement their place in the record books. [Synopsis courtesy of Highway Goat Productions]

Skips Stones For Fudge screens at 7 p.m. Event includes an interview with special guests Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner, Dave “Spiderman” Ohmer, and Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars. Tickets cost $9.

After the film, join Steiner, Ohmer, and Byars as they demonstrate their skills on the Allegheny River under the 40th Street Bridge. The post-screening event begins at 8:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Pittsburgh-Shot Thriller ‘The Final Interview’ Creeps Into Hollywood Theater

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The Final Interview

Last August, local horror filmmaker Fred Vogel started shooting his eighth feature film in Pittsburgh. On August 17, the Hollywood Theater will premiere the finished product, The Final Interview, a thriller about a desperate reporter and a killer.

Veteran TV journalist Oliver Ross (Grainger Hines) visits Western Penitentiary for a live broadcast. There he confronts Darius Tidman (Damien Maruscak), a death row inmate and infamous Pittsburgh murderer, hours before his execution. The face-to-face interview is a last-ditch effort for Ross to salvage his declining career. While he spars verbally with Tidman on air, behind the scenes he wrestles with his own personal demons as his ex-wife and show director Rhonda Cox (Diane Franklin) attempts to keep him on track and guide him through the broadcast. Oliver must push through a dark world of the murder and his own mind. 

The Final Interview screens at 8 p.m. followed by an encore presentation at 10:30 p.m. The event includes a Q&A with the cast and crew. Tickets to both shows cost $8-10.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: July 2017 Edition

The Little Hours – Hollywood Theater

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Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry. The Little Hours opens on August 4 at the Hollywood Theater.

The Lure – Harris Theater

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In Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska‘s horror-musical mash-up, a pair of carnivorous mermaid sisters are drawn ashore in an alternate 1980s Poland to explore the wonders and temptations of life on land. Their tantalizing siren songs and otherworldly aura make them overnight sensations as nightclub singers in the half-glam, half-decrepit fantasy world of Smoczynska’s imagining. In a visceral twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s original Little Mermaid tale, one sister falls for a human, and as the bonds of sisterhood are tested, the lines between love and survival get blurred. The Lure opens on August 6 at the Harris Theater.

Patti Cake$ – Manor Theatre

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In a coming-of-age story straight out of Jersey, an unlikely rapper finds her voice as a one-of-a-kind hip-hop legend in the making in the first feature film from acclaimed commercial and music-video director Geremy Jasper. Set in gritty strip-mall suburbia, the story chronicles an underdog’s quest for fame and glory with humor, raw energy and some unforgettable beats. Patti Cake$ opens on August 18 at the Manor Theatre.

Brigsby Bear – Hollywood Theater

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Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James (Kyle Mooney). A bright, sensitive young adult still living at home, he has grown up with this fantasy series, and the program has grown with him as well — getting more complex over the years. But to say James’ intensely protective parents have kept their son a bit sheltered is an understatement. When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever. He sets out to finish the story himself and must learn to cope with the realities of a new world that he knows nothing about. Brigsby Bear opens on August 18 at the Hollywood Theater.

Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival Highlights Area LGBTQ+ Filmmakers

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Image courtesy of Reel Q

For the first time, area LGBTQ+ filmmakers have the chance to screen their short movies in a local film festival created for and by them with the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival (PUFF). Launched by Reel Q, PUFF celebrates “diverse LGBTQ+ communities through the presentation of overlooked and out-of-the-box films, workshops, lectures, and panels.” See below for event dates and details:

August 4

7 p.m.

Ovarian Psychos (dir. Kate Trumbull LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski, 2012)

ovarian psychos

Ovarian Psychos

The event opens with Ovarian Psychos. The documentary follows The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, a raucous group in Eastside Los Angeles that uses their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color, yet she struggles to strike a balance between motherhood and activism. Evie, a bright-eyed recruit, joins the crew despite poverty and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother. Meanwhile, Andi Xoch, a founding member and street artist, journeys to become a new leader within the crew.

Ovarian Psychos screens at 7 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 6 p.m. Cast members from the film will make an appearance.

August 5

12:30 p.m.

Only In Pittsburgh!

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Mama Said (dir. Scott Andrew, 2012)

Presented in cooperation with the Melwood Screening Room’s Film Kitchen series and the Indie Oaks Festival, Only In Pittsburgh! serves as a showcase for LGBTQ+ short films made by the local burgeoning film community. The featured works include the educational film parody How to Find a Man, the Dusty Springfield-inspired Mama Said, and The Toothmans, a documentary about a rural Pennsylvania family and their transgender daughter.

Only In Pittsburgh! begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 12 p.m.

2 p.m.

Lives of Their Own: Pittsburgh Queer History Project Screening

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Still from Lucky After Dark by the Pittsburgh Queer History Project

Join archivist Harrison Apple as she presents video content from the Pittsburgh Queer History Project, an oral history and media archive aimed at preserving a record of LGBTQ nightlife from 1960-1990. The lecture includes a full screening of the 1989 Ms. Pittsburgh Pageant. This event is free and open to the public.

3:30 p.m.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (dir. David France, 2017)

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The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

When Marsha P. Johnson, the beloved self-described “street queen” of Christopher Street, was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD called her death a suicide. Protests erupted but the police remained impassive and refused to investigate. Now, 25 years later, Oscar-nominated director and journalist David France (How To Survive a Plague) examines the death and extraordinary life of a trans icon.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson screens at the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 3 p.m. 

6 p.m.

The Revival: Women and the Word (dir. Sekiya Dorsett, 2016)

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The Revival: Women and the Word

Jade Foster recruits a group of five dynamic poets and musicians to become stewards of a movement that builds community among queer women of color, upholds literary arts excellence, and occupies living rooms across the country. The documentary follows their international female-led, salon-styled tour.

The Revival: Women and the Word screens at 6 p.m. the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Event includes a post-screening poetry performance.

August 6

11 a.m.

Breakfast with Queer PGH

Join Queer PGH for an early lecture about their mission to promote LGBTQ+ voices and perspectives. Created in 2016, the volunteer-run online magazine “made by and for queer folks in Pittsburgh” has become a platform for artists, writers, photographers, and “general queer enthusiasts.”

12:30 p.m.

Get Animated!

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Happy and Gay (dir. Lorelei Pepi, 2015)

Toonseum sponsors a selection of short films from LGBTQ+ animators. The program includes the 1930s-style cartoon musical Happy and Gay, the animated documentary webseries Dating Sucks, A Genderqueer Misadventure, and a look at the work of Jeffrey Krell, an openly gay American cartoonist known for the syndicated comic strip Jayson.

Get Animated! starts at 12:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 12 p.m. 

2:30 p.m.

JOY! Portrait of a Nun (dir. Joe Balass, 2012)

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JOY! Portrait of a Nun

Spiritual sanctuary, sex, sisterhood and a gathering of faeries. A bearded nun. Through an intimate lens, this feature documentary takes us on a journey with Sister Missionary P. Delight, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In 1979, Mish, as he is affectionately known by his friends, created an Order of gay male nuns to promote a philosophy of promulgating universal joy and expiating guilt. Both he and the Order have come a long way since then. Today, the Sisters are spread out across the globe, and Mish lives in the middle of the woods of the Deep South, in a community of Radical Faeries. JOY! follows Mish and his community over a seven year period, chronicling the history of the movement and the highs and lows of his own personal journey.

JOY! Portrait of a Nun screens at 2:30 p.m. in the Melwood Screening Room. Doors open at 2 p.m. 

All PUFF events take place at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets to all screenings cost $10. Lectures and workshops are free.

Pittsburgh International Children’s Film Festival Returns To Row House Cinema

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The Land Before Time

Last year, Row House Cinema launched the Pittsburgh International Children’s Film Festival, a full week of animated and live-action films from around the globe, accompanied by a diverse schedule of family-friendly events. From July 28-August 3, the festival returns with plenty of fun for kids and adults.

Throughout the week, the theater will screen the 1995 adventure film Jumanji, Hayao Miyazaki’s imaginative tale My Neighbor Totoro, Don Bluth’s dinosaur journey The Land Before Time, and Jim Henson’s The Muppets Take Manhattan. The schedule will also feature two age-specific Best of the Fest short film showcases, one for ages 3-7 and one for older children and teens ages 8 and over.

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Best of the Fest’s Konigiri-Kun Shopping (Japan, 2016)

The event kicks off on July 28 with a screening of The Muppets Take Manhattan and Drag Queen Storytime with local performer Cherri Baum. On July 30 from 12-4 p.m., the theater will host a Family Day with local vendors like Nine Stories Bookstore, Songbird Artistry, and 2468 Kids providing free activities and crafts and selling kid-friendly items from books to gender-neutral clothes.

Other festival happenings include Cereal Cinema with My Neighbor Totoro, which includes an all-you- can-eat cereal bar, and a Morning Storytime show specially designed for ages 3-7, including complimentary snacks from Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

Visit the Row House Cinema website for showtimes and tickets.

Waterworks Cinemas Honors The Late George Romero With Zombie Party

Toronto Zombie Walk - George A. Romero's "Survival of the Dead" Screening

George Romero at the Toronto Zombie Walk (Photo by Jason Gemnich/WireImage)

On July 16, American horror cinema lost one of its greatest voices when George Romero died from lung cancer at the age of 77. With a career spanning over four decades and numerous film and television projects, Romero left an indelible mark on pop culture and inspired generations of filmmakers. He also holds a special place in the hearts of Pittsburgh film fans, as his iconic Living Dead series made Southwestern Pennsylvania the birthplace of the modern zombie. On July 22Waterworks Cinemas honors his life and work with a special event.

The theater will host a Zombie Party featuring a screening of Night of the Living Dead and undead-themed activities. Those dressed in their best zombie outfits can receive professional makeovers by artists of Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects Program. Later in the evening, zombified guests can show off their horrific transformations and compete for top prizes during a pageant judged by macabre makeup experts and other horror gurus.

The Waterworks Cinemas Zombie Party begins at 10 p.m. The pageant takes place at 10:30 p.m. The Night of the Living Dead screening takes place at 11:15 p.m. Tickets are limited and available now for purchase in the theater lobby or online. Please note that Waterworks only offers luxury recliner seating.

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Row House Resurrects Forgotten French Noir Film ‘Panique’

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Panique

Film icon Jean Renoir once proclaimed, “If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of [JulienDuvivier above the entrance.” A prolific filmmaker, Duvivier made 70 films between 1919 and 1967 in his native France and in the United States. Now Row House Cinema will bring a re-release of his 1946 work Panique to Pittsburgh.

Duvivier’s noir adaptation of Georges Simenon‘s Mr. Hire’s Engagement (later adapted by Patrice Leconte as Monsieur Hire) stars Michel Simon as a reviled voyeur framed for a murder by the girl he adores. Now widely considered the finest Simenon adaptation but criticized at the time for its bleakness, the long-unseen Panique has finally been given the vivid restoration it deserves. (Synopsis courtesy of Rialto Pictures)

Panique screens from July 21-27 as part of Row House Cinema’s Film Noir week.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: July 2017 Edition

The Bad Batch – Hollywood Theater

Bad Batch poster

The latest from filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) follows Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) after she’s left in a Texas wasteland fenced off from civilization. While trying to navigate the unforgiving landscape, Arlen is captured by a savage band of cannibals led by the mysterious Miami Man (Jason Momoa). With her life on the line, she makes her way to The Dream (Keanu Reeves). As she adjusts to life in ‘the bad batch‘ Arlen discovers that being good or bad mostly depends on who’s standing next to you. The Bad Batch opens on July 7 at the Hollywood Theater.

The Big Sick – Manor Theatre

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Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart. The Big Sick opens July 7 at the Manor Theatre.

Manifesto – Harris Theater

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The film from artist Julian Rosefeldt features actress Cate Blanchett playing 13 different roles – a housewife, a factory worker, a TV anchor – in vignettes about the words that have inspired art movements. Manifesto opens on July 7 at the Harris Theater.

Maudie – Manor Theatre

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The reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Based on a true story, the film charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter. Maudie opens on July 14 at the Manor Theatre.

Like Crazy – Hollywood Theater

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Beatrice is a motor-mouthed fantasist, a self-styled billionaire countess who likes to believe she’s on intimate terms with world leaders. Donatella is a tattooed introvert, a fragile young woman locked in her own mystery. They are both patients at the Villa Biondi, a progressive but secure psychiatric clinic. Director Paolo Virzì’s new film tells the story of the unpredictable and moving friendship that develops between the two women as they flee the mental institution in search of love and happiness in the open-air nuthouse –  the world of sane people. Like Crazy opens on July 21 at the Hollywood Theater.

Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival Highlights And Details

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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.

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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.