The Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival (PIFF) gathers micro-budget and no-budget films from all over the world, showcasing filmmakers who posses an independent vision and create innovative work outside the studio system. From July 14th to July 16th at the Father Ryan Arts Center, the event will screen a diverse variety of feature-length and short works representing everything from narrative to documentary to animation. See complete schedule below:
Broadway’s Finest (88m, USA)
dir. Stephen Marro
Midnight Run meets The Hangover as three struggling actors impersonate New York City undercover cops. They chase down a notorious drug dealer in order to get the authentic material needed to create their own cutting edge police drama. Things are rarely what they seem in the gritty streets of New York.
The Jumblies (4m, United Kingdom)
dir. Robert Duncan
Animator Robert Duncan created this adaptation of Edward Lear‘s nonsense poem about the adventurous and colourful Jumblies who go to sea in a sieve.
Dead Reckoning (14m, USA)
dir. Edward Plumb
Narrative Short / Webisode
Grounded (65m, U S A)
dir. Sean Crowell
The high-flying story of Pittsburgh brothers Jimmy and Terry Dougherty, who became marijuana smugglers in the 1970′s. Jimmy worked the ground crew and Terry was the pilot whose aviation skills helped expand the smuggling operation beyond their wildest dreams. Their adventures stretched from the farmers’ fields of rural Florida and Alabama, to the dirt runways of Colombia and back again.
The Calm (3m, USA)
dir. Carey McKelvey
Haunted by the Holocaust (18m, USA)
dir. Cory Levin
This is the true story of a Holocaust survivor’s determination to live through her horrible situation and the case brought up by her and other survivors to sue the Swiss Banks with lawyers from Cohen and Malad in Indianapolis worth $1.25 billion.
Just Passing By (14m, USA)
dir. Susanne Dollnig
Where do you come from? What was your biggest loss? What makes you smile? And where are you going? An Austrian filmmaker tries to find out how much you can learn about a random stranger’s life in the amount of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Quite a bit, as it turns out. All you have to do is listen.
United in Hope: A Global Journey (31m, Canada, USA)
dir. Terry Coyle
Story of three breast cancer survivors and Susan G. Komen’s continuing fight to find a cure.
Reborning (8m, USA)
sub. Helen Hood Scheer
Jean likes to create something out of nothing.
The Bonobo Connection (31m, USA)
dir. Irene Magafan
Doucmentary short about a forgotten relative: the bonobo. Aside from chimpanzees, they are the closest blood relatives to humans, and in the wild they can only be found in one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa. Bonobos were the last of the great apes to be discovered but could be the first to go extinct due to the dangers they are facing in the wild: deforestation, being hunted for bush meat, and getting caught in the middle of a war zone from the country’s political instability. This film will take you on an emotional journey into the lives of these forgotten apes.
Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh (57m, USA)
sub. Patty Wisniewski
Explores the diverse ecology, illustrates the astonishing history, and unveils the controversial saga of the Grand Kankakee Marsh.
Pole-itics (18m, USA)
dir. Emilee Wilson
Former pole dancer Emilee Wilson has been an advocate for public pole for nearly 9 years. As an artist who has portrayed exotic dancers on stage and screen, Wilson explores the possibility that pole dance may be on its way to the Olympic committee.
Corno (78m, Canada)
dir. Guy Edoin
Documentary film about Quebec painter Johanne Corno, who has lived in New York for more than 20 years. Looked down on by Quebec’s art intelligentsia, she went into self-imposed exile abroad to free herself from her society’s heavy yoke and built an enviable international career.
Love Stuffed (11m, United Kingdom)
dir. Rupert Van Den Broek
A taxidermist’s assistant tries to win the heart of his boss through dance, but can he compete with the memory of her dead husband?
From the Woods (26m, USA)
dir. by Nicolas Wendl
A recently single mother must learn to let go of her fear and obsession about her abusive husband in order to save her son from a mysterious creature in the woods.
The Firebird (25m, Australia)
dir. Antonis Tsonis
As a child Omid is forced to flee his homeland due to political unrest and his father’s revolutionary poetry for freedom. To survive and endure the consequences of mandatory detention and deportation from Australia, Omid trusts in the wisdom of the great poets and his father’s words to avoid internal surrender. From the depths of political exclusion an artist is born.
Changing Reels (6m, USA)
dir. Timothy M. Flaherty
Changing Reels is the story of a projectionist on his last day of employment, as his theater is closing down to change to new digital technology. The film is a reflection of an aging man feeling a disconnect from the world around him.
The Gate Agent (17m, USA)
dir. Damiano Fusca
Life doesn’t end at death. It begins at the gate.
OSWALD (11m, USA)
dir. Alyssa Rallo Bennett
Lee Harvey Oswald meets up with his bother Robert Oswald in a hotel room just before the assassination of JFK.
Black Steps (4m, Canada)
dir. Dan Noah
Spaghetti für Zwei (Spaghetti For Two) (19m, Germany)
dir. Matthias Rosenberger
The likeable but lonesome man is on his way to lunch. Awaiting him, the outside world lurks menacingly: in his imagination it swarms with would-be crooks, hussies and criminals. What should have been a routine stroll develops into a dark odyssey, triggering a troubled conflict against himself and against the world… and ultimately, it is the underdog who is victorious.
Puncture (5m, Australia)
dir. Edward Lyons
When a self reliant business woman breaks down on a dark and isolated country road, she discovers that help can come from the strangest of strangers.
Fancy (13m, USA)
sub. Brian Stone
Paul Andrews has been racing pigeons longer than he can remember. He was once the club’s reigning champion, but he’s been in a slump for several seasons now, winless since his wife passed away. Now approaching the end of his racing career, and with only the final race of the season left, Paul finds faith that he can win one last time.
Intersection (7m, USA)
sub. Dorothea Paschalidou
Intersection is a coming of age drama that involves a single, blue- collar father and his teenage son. Their relationship is edgy and distant because both of them lead secret lives at night: The father is a drag queen performer and the boy has recently become associate with a neo-nazi gang. On the night of the boy’s initiation to the gang, both father and son’s secret lives meet in an intersection.
Pinball Donut Girl (11m, USA)
dir. Don Starnes
Re-discover pinball in this indie comedy about love in a donut shop.
Last Remnants (7m, USA)
dir. Charles Pieper
A young man’s night out at a diner takes a curious turn when he is confronted by a stranger completely removed from the modern era. Based on a newspaper article published by the Chicago Herald in 1901.
Cold Soldier (14m, USA)
dir. Michael DiGiorgio
Two air force pilots crash land in a frozen tundra with no recollection of how they got there.
Get Down (22m, USA)
dir. Robbie Barclay
When a lonely corrections officer in a small town is approached by a young man to retrieve a stolen gun he is sent down a dark path across a rugged and fantastic landscape.
Rain (14m, Australia)
dir. Henry Boffin
An Old Man and a deaf Boy live alone in the middle of a desolate wasteland of a future where it hasn’t rained for 50 years. Their home exists on the outskirts of what, long ago, used to be a civilised town. But now the water is gone and the pair survives off of the last remains of a secret well beneath their home. As the well runs dry and desperate savages roam the countryside there is nowhere left to turn, the Old Man realizes that their days are numbered.
Girls Who Smoke (15m, USA)
dir. Tawny Foskett
Girls Who Smoke is adapted from a Moth story that played on public radio’s This American Life program and is about two women, both with bad boyfriends and bad habits, who connect over a pack of cigarettes.
The Ladder (7m, USA)
dir. Pete Fitz
It’s late on a school night and CB has just been invited to his first romantic rendezvous with a girl in his class. Everything is riding on the shoulders of the boy’s ingenuity and gumption as he struggles to carry a ladder through the hazards of the night before reaching young love’s window.
Driftwood (11m, United Kingdom)
dir. James Webber
Set in London, Driftwood is the story of fifteen-year-old Sam, a swimming prodigy, whose life is split into two very different worlds: a poignant antithesis between talent and achievement at the dawn of his sporting career, and fear and torment in his home and social life.
Any Moment Now (23m, Australia)
dir. Gary Glenn
Two organized crime types meet in a deserted country restaurant. Devon has stolen money from the mob and Jimmy has come to talk him into giving the money back – and save both of their lives at the same time.
Dark Before Dawn (18m USA)
dir. Christina Grozik
Haunted by broken dreams, a writer struggles with his final chapter.
Headcase (88m, Canada)
dir. Ken Simpson
After an ill-advised outburst gets wise-cracking Craig fired from his office job, he ends up agreeing to deliver a package for a man he barely knows. The mysterious delivery quickly turns to horror as Craig finds himself pursued by murder, mayhem and the mob.
DUANE MICHALS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED HIMSELF (85m, France, U S A)
dir. Camille Guichard
A cinematic portrait of Duane Michals, one of America’s masters of photography, who revolutionized the art form and paved the way for other artists who followed. Michals is a witty and cheerful young man of almost 80 years old and, most of all, one of the great American Masters of Photography. As a completely self-taught photographer, Michals was among the first photographers to make innovative use of photo sequences, incorporating handwritten texts which add another dimension to the images’ meaning.
Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives–The Environmental Footprint of War (68m, U S A)
dir. Alice and Lincoln Day
Using on-site and archival footage to illustrate specialist and eyewitness accounts from around the world, Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives shows how war and preparations for war further compromise the environmental health of a planet already stressed by massive population increases, ruinous environmental practices, and unsustainable demands on natural resources. In the context of growing awareness and alarm about global climate change, it shows natural security (the protection and preservation of ecosystems) to be an essential component of any realistic approach to national security.
Walls of Sound: A Look Inside the House of Records (63m, USA)
dir. David Gracon
This documentary video is a case study of the House of Records, a brick and mortar independent record store based in Eugene, Oregon. The store has been in operation since 1972, and it currently struggles to exist in the midst of digital downloading (both legal and illegal) and the corporate consolidation of culture (in terms of corporate chain and big-box stores). The video is an ethnographic study that combines interviews with the owner and employees, as well as various customers of the store and addresses the socio-cultural significance and various folkloric narratives of the store on a number of levels.
Make A Wish (3m, USA)
dir. Hee Jin Kim
This 3D animated film depicts an ordinary girl who wants to be beautiful. The only thing which makes her different from others is that she has a name card of a wily magician. How the girl changes her mind while changing her body is captured with subtle character animations.
Kneejerk (2m, USA)
dir. Jordan Schmelzer
The Worst (16m, USA)
dir. Larry Cohen
Ryan had a bad night. Her phone is dead. And in a moment of indecision, she just left everything on the F train. Desperate, she turns to Nick, an off-duty MTA worker of suspect morals. The two strangers enter into a contentious deal to chase down the subway, before it vanishes with Ryan’s luggage and any chance of her getting home.
Abyssus Abyssum Invocat (9m, USA)
dir. Wes Simpkins
Abyssus Abyssus Invocat is a stop motion animation/ live action mash-up that comes together seamlessly to harness the intrinsic dark qualities of the mediums of stop motion and live action puppetry. It approaches the topic of capital punishment in a satiric and at times grotesque fashion, riffing on classic storytelling aesthetics of the Eastern European masters of the stop motion craft.
Jack & Jill (12m, Australia)
dir. Lloyd Harvey, Spencer Harvey
Jill’s father is stationed in New Guinea during WWII, whilst Jill and her sisters wait at home in Sydney for news from the front line. The women are left to fear the worst, upon learning that an RAAF squadron, near the village where their father is stationed, has sustained heavy casualties. So Jill, armed with her imagination and a map of the South Pacific, takes it upon herself to bring her father home.
Customer Service (11m, USA)
dir. Karin Kelly
The story of Dean, a decent guy who loses his job trying to do the right thing, only to discover that the wheel of karma can turn in your favor as well.
BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP (3m, USA)
dir. Brittany Portman
Red Brick, a dilapidated red brick building, is part of urban blight. Steele N. Glass is a magnificent structure that adorns the skyline and stands next to Red Brick. Red Brick is infatuated with Steele and wishes to win her. Watch Red Brick as his transformation unfolds in this eco-romantic film short.
Make It a Great Day (7m, USA)
dir. Joshua Jones
Mother Nature’s peculiar sense of irony creates a convoluted path of survival for a newborn chick with unfortunate timing.
Let Your Light Shine (3m, USA)
sub. Bridge and Tunnel Communications
Genesis (3m, Singapore)
dir. Isaac Kerlow
Life is created from light and motion. A man and a woman are born and fall in love, but their harmony is short lived. The short combines a variety of animation techniques and includes an original musical score.
MAN AT THE DOOR (30m, USA)
dir. Alan Arrivée
When a middle class white woman, who has recently separated from her husband and moved to Chicago, goes downstairs to her apartment lobby with a UPS slip in hand, she finds an illegal Mexican laborer at her doorstep, bleeding from a stab wound and begging to be let in. The decision she makes forces her to face the dangers of the city and its seemingly alien inhabitants.
Losing LeBron (60m, USA)
sub. Nicole Hart
A feature-length documentary chronicling NBA superstar LeBron James’ first season with the Miami Heat, through the eyes of the fans he left behind.
Kayip (14m, Belgium, Turkey, USA)
dir. Mete Sozer
Gorko! (6m, Russian Federation)
dir. Dmitriy Sergin
An acrophobic man skydives to prove his love to his girlfriend. Before jumping, he asks her to marry him, then, as a joke, tells her marry his best friend if he dies.
B.B.S.B. “Locolotion” Subtitled (3m, Japan)
dir. Yuki Ogura
The Missouri Strain (22m, USA)
dir. Wes Kotansky, Jr.
A small family tries to escape a fast-acting virus that mutates people into flesh-eating zombies. The virus spreads so rapidly that the family has very little options to escape. They turn to their last resort and enter into a deep east coast forest hoping they will be safe. The film focuses much more on the emotions of the family and the impact it has on them rather than the impact of the virus and zombies.
King Tigermore In Strawberry Fields (3m, USA)
dir. Tunde Reid-Kapo
Kimi plays a dreamlike chess game in this fantastical childhood romp in which King Tigermore comes to life.
Lockwood (26m, USA)
dir. Donnie McCormick
Hoping for a big break on the story of a missing girl, newspaper writer Robert O’Dwyer returns to his hometown of Lockwood and must choose between his career and his family in order to uncover the girl’s killer in this 1920s thriller.
JackenJill (24m, Canada)
dir. Frank Forrestall
JackenJill find themselves in a mysterious house at the top of their proverbial hill. This house is a spiritual no-man’s land where those who have fallen can enact one last drama before the ultimate end of their life. Creatures and vagrants roam the halls of the house on the hill. JackenJill learn acceptance but not without pain, spiritual despair, denial and death in this short film about life, death and spiritual despair based on the nursery rhyme.
Surviving Family (87m, USA)
dir. Laura Thies
Terry Malone is smart, beautiful, and about to marry a terrific guy. But life in her dysfunctional family – marred by alcoholism, mental illness, and suicide – has left her unprepared to build the happy life that she yearns for. A visit to her family home forces Terry to face the truth about her mother’s death, her father’s life, and the half sister she never knew she had.
There Are No Goodbyes (99m, USA)
dir. John C. Lyons
Born and raised in a quiet, industrial city, Oliver has grown comfortable, but without direction. He is contacted by a mysterious gentleman who gives him an odd task to complete. Without knowing the man or his motivation, he complies and is rewarded. The tasks continue and provide purpose, but soon he begins to question the man and his intentions. Frustrated and back on his own, Oliver crosses paths with a young photographer named Raina, who introduces new energy to his life. They fall in love and all is well until the man returns with one more task to complete. Will Oliver succumb to his demands and does he have a choice?
Tickets for PIFF are $10 for a One Day Pass, $15 for a Two Day Pass, and $20 for a Festival Pass. Tickets are available for purchase on the PIFF website.