From August 26-27, Carnegie 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.
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:
Ovarian Psychos (dir. Kate Trumbull LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski, 2012)
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.
Only In Pittsburgh!
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.
Lives of Their Own: Pittsburgh Queer History Project Screening
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.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (dir. David France, 2017)
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.
The Revival: Women and the Word (dir. Sekiya Dorsett, 2016)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PIFF will also show films hailing from Canada, France, the UK, Israel, and Hungary.
For over two decades, JFilm Festival has worked to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of modern Jewish culture and history. From April 20-30, the event will present new films from around the world, along with complementary programming such as visiting filmmakers, guest speakers, and more. See below for highlights and details:
The 2017 JFilm Festival will present a variety of documentaries, including the Pittsburgh premiere of Take My Nose…Please. Directed by veteran journalist Joan Kron, the film looks at the role comedy has played in exposing the pressure on women to attain physical perfection. From Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, female comedians have been unashamed to talk about their perceived flaws, and the steps taken to remedy them. The film follows two women – up-and coming improv performer Emily Askin and seasoned headliner Jackie Hoffman – as they deliberate about going under the knife.
Also showing in the documentary category is There Are Jews Here, a film about the struggle to keep small-town synagogues open; The Last Laugh, an exploration of how comedians deal with the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II; and On the Map, a look at how, in 1977, an Israeli basketball team gave the country hope.
The festival will also present narrative films such as The Exception. Filled with espionage and romance, the star-studded World War II thriller features Jai Courtney as a German soldier on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). As he begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds himself drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with one of the Kaiser’s maids (Lily James of Downton Abbey) who is secretly Jewish. Their relationship becomes even more complicated when SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan) suddenly shows up with a large platoon of Nazis in tow.
Other narrative selections include The Jews, a dark satire about anti-Semitism in France; Fanny’s Journey, a WWII-era tale about a 13-year-old girl on the run from the Nazis; and Family Commitment, a screwball comedy about an Arab-Jewish gay couple and their dysfunctional families.
From April 7-13, Row House Cinema hosts the second annual Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival, the city’s only event dedicated solely to Japanese cinema. Presented in part by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society and the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania, the festival features seven handpicked historically and culturally significant films from Japan, all representing different eras and genres.
See film descriptions and details below:
Opening Night Film – Samurai Cat (2015, Takeshi Watanabe/Yoshitaka Yamaguchi)
This action comedy follows a feared swordsman who gets caught between two warring gangs after he absconds with a warlord’s cat.
The Opening Night event includes a special screening of the Studio Ghibli short film Ghiblies: Episode 2. Tickets cost $15 and include admission to the screenings, Japanese snacks, special treats by bakery Yummyholic, and goodies from the Black Cat Market.
House (1977, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi)
Director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s bizarre fantasy horror film follows a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions.
Sailor Moon R: The Movie (1993, Kunihiko Ikuhara)
Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. The mysterious flower he finds is beautiful, but has a dark side – it has the power to take over planets. To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an ominous new asteroid near Earth! Faced with an enemy blooming out of control, it’s up to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians to band together, stop the impending destruction and save Mamoru.
Harakiri (1962, Masaki Kobayashi)
Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on the property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force his hand and get him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013, Sion Sono)
There’s a war going on, but that won’t stop Director Hirata and his inexperienced wannabe film crew from following their dreams of making the ultimate action epic. Ten years ago, yakuza mid-boss Ikegami led an assault against rival don Muto. Now, on the eve of his revenge, all Muto wants to do is complete his masterpiece, a feature film with his daughter in the starring role, before his wife is released from prison. And Hirata and his crew are standing by with the chance of a lifetime: to film a real, live yakuza battle to the death.
Closing Night Film – Ghost in the Shell (1995, Mamoru Oshii)
Set in the year 2029, Oshii’s anime masterpiece follows a female government cyber agent and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of a “The Puppet Master,” a computer virus capable of invading cybernetic brains and altering its victim’s memory.
Check the Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival website for ticket prices and showtimes. The festival also includes performances by Pittsburgh Taiko, food and movie pairings with Blue Sparrow Food Truck, local vendor tables, and more.
From March 17-18, the University of Pittsburgh‘s Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and the Serbian National Federation will present the Serbian Movie Festival, two days of narrative and documentary films about Serbian history and culture.
See film schedule and details below:
Enclave (2015, dir. Goran Radovanovic)
A Christian boy, determined to create a proper community burial for his late grandfather, crosses enemy lines and makes friends among the Muslim majority in deeply divided, war-torn Kosovo.
Where the Yellow Lemon Blooms (2006, dir. Zdravko Sotra)
A documentary about the suffering of the Serbian people and its army in WWI.
We Will Be the World Champions (2015, dir. Darko Bajić)
A film about the founders of the famous Yugoslav Basketball School and the first gold medal at the Championships in Ljubljana in 1970. Based on a true story.
See You in Montevideo (2014, dir. Dragan Bjelogrlić)
A football team from Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, gets a chance to go to the First World Football Championship, but things get complicated along the way.
The Man Who Defended Gavrilo Princip (2014, dir. Srđan Koljević)
The film follows the investigation and trial following the Sarajevo assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, which triggered the First World War. The courtroom drama is seen through the eyes of Rudolf Zistler, one of the attorneys appointed by the court to defend the 24 accused members of Young Bosnia and assassin Gavrilo Princip.
The Serbian Movie Festival will take place in Room 232 of the Cathedral of Learning. The event is free and open to the public.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the August Wilson Center will showcase African-American contributions to the silver screen with the first-ever Black Bottom Film Festival (BBFF). The event takes place from February 24-26 and includes a selection of features, shorts and documentaries that “parallel the reoccurring themes of spirituality, family conflict, race and working class struggle that serve as the foundation for August Wilson’s award-winning and internationally renowned Pittsburgh Cycle plays.”
The festival will also recognize the creative contributions of filmmaker Michael Schultz. As one of the first African-American directors hired by the major studios, Schultz opened the doors for directors of color with such features as Car Wash, Krush Groove and The Last Dragon. His career has spanned more than four decades and includes films, children’s programming, and television episodes for series such as Blackish, New Girl, My Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend and Arrow.
See event schedule and details below:
Post-Racial Cinema: Black Film in The Obama Age
Reelblack Podcast co-hosts Mike D. and Charles Woods identify trends and milestones in Black films released from 2008-2016.
Friday Night Shorts
Selections include Dream (dir. Nijla Mu’min), A Day in the Life of a Hashtag and African in America (dir. Njaimeh Njie), Ghetto Steps (dir. Emmai Alaquiva), and Father’s Day (dir. Demetrius Wren).
Chapter & Verse (dir. Jamal Joseph)
After serving eight years in prison, reformed gang leader S. Lance Ingram re-enters society and struggles to adapt to a changed Harlem. Living under the tough supervision of a parole officer in a halfway house, he is unable to find a job that will let him use the technological skills he gained in prison. Lance is forced to take a job delivering for a food pantry where he befriends Ms. Maddy, a strong and spirited grandmother, and assumes responsibility for her 15-year-old grandson Ty, a promising student who is pulled into a dangerous street gang. When gang members decide to punish Ty for disobeying the “law of the streets,” Lance risks sacrificing his “second chance” at freedom so that Ty can have a “first chance” at a better life. Starring Daniel Beaty, Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and Selenis Leyva.
Saturday at the Cine
Screenings include the short Father’s Day from University of Pittsburgh professor Demetrius Wren and the documentary Agents of Change by Frank Dawson. Includes Q&As with Wren and Dawson.
Michael Schultz Q&A
Schultz sits down for a conversation with the newly appointed CEO of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Germaine Williams.
Like Cotton Twines (dir. Leila Djansi)
Jay Ellis (The Game, Insecure) plays an American volunteer who takes a teaching job in a Ghanaian village. There he meets a bright girl who must atone for a deadly accident committed by her father and, according to custom, must abandon her education to be offered into religious slavery.
Michael Schultz will receive an award commissioned Pittsburgh-based artist Thad Mosley during the BBFF for Cinematic Excellence Ceremony. The evening includes a retrospective of Schultz’s work and a screening of Cooley High, his 1975 film about a group of teenage friends living in 1964 Chicago.
Late Night Feature
See a late night screening of Which Way Is Up?, Michael Schultz’s 1977 comedy starring Richard Pryor in multiple roles.
Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from U.C.L.A. (dir. Zeinabu Irene Davis)
Documentary filmmaker Zeinabu Irene Davis goes behind and in front of the camera as she profiles several filmmakers identified with the L.A. Rebellion, including Charles Burnett, Ben Caldwell, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Barbara McCullough, and Billy Woodberry.
Destination Planet Negro (dir. Kevin Willmott)
In 1939, a group of African-American intellectuals come up with an ingenious and unlikely response to Jim Crow America – leave the planet and populate Mars. Using technology created by George Washington Carver, a three-person crew and one rambunctious robot lift-off in Earth’s first working spaceship on a mission that will take them to a world not unlike present-day America. Their spacey adventure illuminates some hard truths about American culture and threatens to undermine the timeline of history along the way.
Two Trains Runnin’ (dir. Sam Pollard)
The feature-length documentary by filmmaker Sam Pollard pays tribute to a pioneering generation of musicians and cuts to the heart of our present moment, offering a crucial vantage from which to view the evolving dynamics of race in America. The film is narrated by Common and features the music of Gary Clark Jr.
All events take place at the August Wilson Center. A Q&A will follow each screening. Tickets cost $15 for a single-day pass and $35 for a festival pass and are available for purchased online, over the phone at (412) 456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office. Tickets will also be sold, based on availability, two hours before the event time at the August Wilson Center’s box office located at the venue.
Muggles and wizards alike will have loads of fun when Row House Cinema and its sister store, Bierport, host the Harry Potter Film And Cultural Festival. The event will feature two weeks of live music, themed food and drinks, and, of course, film screenings dedicated to one of the most successful and widely beloved YA series in history.
The itinerary includes regular showings of the Harry Potter screen adaptations. Starting in 2001 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and ending with the two-part finale Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the expansive franchise follows the adventures of the young wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) as they hone their magic skills at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Along the way, they face increasing peril as they unravel the mysterious connection between Harry and the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), whose band of rogue wizards are intent on destroying Harry along with anyone who stands in their way.
During the festival, fans young and old can enjoy a number of other activities, including a performance by the Harry Potter tribute band Muggle Snuggle, storytime with the Carnegie Library, and a house sorting night where people can discover if they belong to Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. There will also be crafts, trivia, costume contests, and treats of both the alcoholic and kid-safe variety.
The Harry Potter Film And Cultural Festival runs from February 17–March 2. Tickets and additional information about the event are available at the Row House website.
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
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 31–February 2.
The Eyes of My Mother
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 27–January 30.
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 29–February 1.
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
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 27–February 2.
Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door. Guests can also buy a $30 festival pass for all five films.