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.
In 2014, Row House Theater opened in Lawrenceville, making it the first movie theater to operate in the neighborhood since 1965. On June 21, Row House and its sister store, Bierport, will celebrate three years of good films and good beer with a special birthday bash at Belvederes Ultra-Dive.
“It’s a chance to celebrate with our patrons, our vendors, and the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our success couldn’t be realized without them,” said Row House owner Brian Mendelssohn in a press release.
A video mashup of Row House movies and favorite staff memories will serve as the backdrop for the evening as DJs Selecta and Nate Da Barber keep people moving on the dance floor. Sample some food truck bites from Blue Sparrow, sweet treats by Yummyholic, and crafts by Songbird Artistry. There will also be drink specials and complimentary Row House popcorn, party hats, and kazoos.
Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $6. Guests with the SRVD app will have access to exclusive drink specials for the evening. As part of the birthday celebration, Row House will also host a week of their favorite films from June 16-22.
In 1996, the locally produced documentary Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, bringing to light the forgotten contributors to an industry that defined Pittsburgh. On June 8, The Battle of Homestead Foundation will present a special screening of the film at the historic Pump House.
When a local television station did a program about the closing of the major steel mills in the Pittsburgh region, Ray Henderson, a former mill worker who had worked in the mills for 18 years, couldn’t help but notice that not one Black worker was shown. This despite the fact that African-American workers had formed a critical part of the labor force in western Pennsylvania for 125 years.
With his old friend and independent filmmaker Tony Buba, Henderson set out to collaborate on a history of African-Americans and their contributions not just to the steel industry, but to the labor movement itself. Through eloquent living witnesses and revelatory archival footage, the film presents a striking counterpoint to the stereotypical Black male image.
Featuring interviews with over 70 African-American workers, Struggles In Steel documents the shameful history of discrimination against Black workers and one heroic campaign where they won equality on the job. (Synopsis courtesy of Braddock Films)
The Struggles in Steel screening takes place from 7-9 p.m. and includes a discussion with Buba. The event is free and open to the public.
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 16 – 20, and offers 31 films at venues throughout the city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As urban populations continue to grow, the access to decent housing shrinks. On November 10th, the Carnegie Museum of Art will examine how people throughout South America are trying to solve the problem with a preview of the locally produced documentary Within Formal Cities.
The film by intern architects Brian Gaudio and Abe Drechsler showcases innovative housing and infrastructure projects in Lima, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Bogotá. During their travels, Gaudio and Drechsler interviewed more than 40 architects, designers, community members, and government agencies to learn about the housing crisis and the innovative ways designers are addressing it.
Within Formal Cities begins at 6:30 p.m. in the CMOA Theater. Gaudio will introduce the film and conduct a post-screening Q&A. The event is free. Those interested in attending can RSVP at the event Facebook page.
The screening is a program of Building Optimism: Public Space in South America at CMOA’s Heinz Architectural Center.
Since it opened in 2014, Row House Cinema has entertained audiences with an eclectic selection of beloved classics, acclaimed new releases, and offbeat cult films. Now moviegoers can support the local single-screen theater and receive special perks with the Row House Film Club.
The program offers identical benefits with two payment options: the $10-a-month Sustaining Membership and the $100-a-year Annual Membership.
“The Film Club gives members a personalized experience every time they walk through our doors,” says Row House owner Brian Mendelssohn in an official statement.
Each member receives the following benefits:
- One free movie ticket as a thank you for joining
- One free birthday movie in the month of your birthday
- One free movie entry each month with complimentary small popcorn
- Access to advance and discount tickets for special events and screenings
- On-screen recognition at each movie screening
- Invitation to an Annual Member Appreciation Day
Those interested can sign up for Row House Film Club online.
The Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Horror Project challenged 21 teams to write, shoot, edit, and score their own horror shorts over the course of a single weekend. On October 20th and 21st, the resulting films will premiere at the Hollywood Theater and compete for a variety of awards. See screening schedule below:
Autumn Wind Films – Glenn Syska
Dreaming Droids Productions – Paul Nandzik
Everlasting Productions LLC – Steve Sensebaugh
Gaff Tape and a Prayer – Mike Hanley
Hutchins Films – Jesse Hutchins
IFT CCAC SOUTH – Brendan Smith
Long Knuckle Studios – David Kost
R. Walker Productions – Rodman Walker
Team MGBG Films – Bryan Ghingold
Vaginal powers – Amanda Menendez
Written In Blood Productions – Michael Carbonara
BA …is the name – JP Russell, IV
Dunndo Studios – Troy Jackson
Eyes On Entertainment – James Garvin
Falling October Productions – Alexander Cronin
Haunted Hillside Productions – Elisabetta Pontillo
Locust Street Entertainment – Lance Parkin
PAS Productions – Valerie Gaisor
ShadowFrame – Jason Boyer
Titan Terror Studios – Emily Bondi
Westmonster Productions – Tyler Helvin
Audience members may vote on their favorite films after each group showing. All tickets cost $5 and are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets.
It’s that time of year again, and Pittsburgh has tons of movie events to get you in the Halloween spirit. Scare yourself all month long with festive horror screenings, parties and festivals.
Midnight at the Manor – Manor Theatre
Enjoy a lineup of horror movies at Manor Theatre during the fifth annual Midnight at the Manor. Selections include Green Room on October 1st and It Follows on October 22nd. Keep checking the website for more films and details. All screenings will take place at midnight.
Haunted Oaks Film Festival – Oaks Theater
On October 1st, the Oaks Theater will showcase locally made short films during the second annual Haunted Oaks Film Festival. Selections include Candy by Nelson Vicens, Last Rain by the Carnegie Screenwriters, and Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Horror Project winner Daisy. Audience members can also vote for the best films of the festival. A pre-show cocktail hour featuring special $5 drinks begins at 6 p.m. Films begin at 7:30 p.m. Auditorium tickets cost $10, $12 for VIP table seating, and are available for purchase at Showclix or at the door.
October Sunday Night Series – Regent Square Theater
Regent Square Theater presents an impressive roster of classic horror movies during their month-long October Sunday Night Series. Selections include Dracula on October 2nd, The Invisible Man on October 9th, The Bride of Frankenstein on October 16th, The Wolf Man on October 23rd and The Creature from the Black Lagoon on October 30th. All screenings take place at 8 p.m.
Halloween Movie Nights – AMC Loews Waterfront
The Classic Movie Nights series at AMC Loews Waterfront takes a spooky turn with Halloween Movie Nights. Selections include Donnie Darko on October 5th, Poltergeist on October 12th, Psycho on October 19th and Halloween on October 26th. All screenings take place at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5, $10.50 for reserved seating.
October Movie Nights – Mixtape
The Garfield coffee and cocktail bar Mixtape will screen a host of horror movies as part of their weekly October Movie Nights series. On October 6th, it’s the horror comedy The Addams Family followed by Wes Craven’s meta-slasher classic Scream. On October 13th, its Hocus Pocus followed by the 2013 remake of Carrie. On October 20th, it’s Beetlejuice followed by Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake. On October 27th, it’s a special Nightmare Edition with Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas followed by the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Films start at 7 and 9 p.m. Admission is free and includes complimentary popcorn. Guests must be 21 and over.
Halloween Spook-Tacular – Dependable Drive-In
Families and hardcore horror fans alike will find plenty of fun at Dependable Drive-In‘s Halloween Spook-Tacular. On October 14th, the theater will open at 5 p.m. with trunk-or-treat for the kids and contests for the best costume and best-decorated car. A kid-friendly double feature with Hotel Transylvania 2 and Monster House begins at 7:15 p.m. Afterward, adults can enjoy more R-rated frights with Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. There will also be pumpkin funnel cakes and hot apple cider at the concession stand. Admission is $8 for adult, $3 for kids ages 5-11.
Living Dead Weekend – Living Dead Museum
The Living Dead Museum will once again host a weekend of zombie-themed fun for the whole family. From October 14th through October 16th, horror fans can partake in activities such as a George Romero double feature at the Strand Theater and guided Living Dead film location tours. Guests can also enjoy numerous activities in EDCO Park, including discussion panels and meetups with Living Dead cast and crew members, parties, vendors, and more. See the Living Dead Weekend website for a complete schedule, guest list and ticket prices.
Halloween Party with Doug Bradley and The Innocents – Hollywood Theater
On October 15th, horror icon Doug Bradley, star of the Hellraiser series, will stop by the Hollywood Theater for the venue’s annual Halloween party. The event includes a screening of the 1961 film The Innocents. Based on the Henry James novella Turn of the Screw, the British tale stars Deborah Kerr as a governess who believes the two children under her care are being possessed by a malevolent spirit haunting their house. There will also be festive treats, a costume contest with prizes, and photo and autograph opportunities with Bradley. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to 12 at Showclix, $8 for members, $15 at the door. BYOB is prohibited for this event. The theater will sell beer and wine.
Haunted Psychedelic Creep Show Vault – Spirit
On October 21st, the creatures of the night will make some cool music at Spirit when the venue presents a DJ lineup spinning horror movie-inspired disco, as well as synthwave, witch-house and black techno. Headlining the event is Antoni Maiovvi, co-owner of the Euro-horror dance music label Giallo Disco Records. Maiovvi scored the neo-Giallo film Yellow, which screened at Film 4 Frightfest, Sitges 2012, Berlinale and Cannes. The evening begins at 9 p.m. Cover is $7. This is a 21 and over event.
Silent Horror Classics Marathon – Row House Cinema
On October 23rd, Row House Cinema will go quiet for a full day of silent horror cinema. The event includes screenings of Vampyr (1932), Nosferatu (1922), Faust (1926) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). The Silent Horror Classics Marathon begins at 1:15 p.m. Showtimes and tickets are available at the Row House website.
Midnight Radio’s Night of the Living Dead N’at – Bricolage
From October 27th through November 12th, Bricolage some adds levity to the zombie apocalypse with Midnight Radio‘s horror comedy show Night of the Living Dead N’at. The twisted, 1940s radio-style take on George Romero’s definitive 1968 film Night of the Living Dead comes complete with live foley work, commercial spoofs and performers juggling multiple roles, as well as live musical accompaniment by Cello Fury. Audience members can also enjoy a special pre-show happy hour with free drinks and activities. Tickets cost $35, $25 for students with valid ID, and are available for purchase at the Bricolage website.
Fans of guts and gore should head to the Riverside Drive-In for an exclusive, one-night only event. On September 16th, the outdoor venue will screen three movies, including one shot by Pittsburgh filmmakers, for its Independent Horror Film Fest. See schedule and details below:
The Dooms Chapel Horror (2015)
Described as a “creature feature with heart,” The Dooms Chapel Horror follows Kyle (Austin Madding) as he returns to his hometown after a 10-year-long absence. Blamed for the death of his brother, Ryan (William Ryan Watson), he hopes to clear his name by proving that his brother’s death was an accident. But something in the woods promises to take even more from Kyle.
The Barn (2015)
Set in Halloween 1989, this selection from the Pittsburgh-based company Nevermore Production Films follows best friends Sam and Josh as they try to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within.
Night of Something Strange (2016)
Five teenage friends set out for the beach on their Spring Break vacation. Good times are cut short when one of the group members contracts a deadly sexual transmitted disease during a bathroom stop. When they stop for the night at an isolated motel, the real terror begins when the STD virus starts running rampant, turning those infected into the living dead. However, there’s more going on at the motel than meets the eye.
Gates for the event open at 7 p.m. Admission is $8.
On August 4th, the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) and WESA will present the retrospective No Place but Home: An Evening with Filmmaker Tony Buba. The event is part of The Double Exposure Series, a part of CMOA’s Time-Based Media Project, which features “artists, preservationists, curators and scholars discussing the legacy of avant-garde film and video of the 1960s–1980s, including works in CMOA’s permanent collection and beyond.”
Since 1974, Braddock-based filmmaker Tony Buba has made over 20 films through his company Braddock Films, including the The Braddock Chronicles, a dozen black & white short documentaries chronicling life in a “dying milltown.” The event will include the premiere of No Place but Home, a documentary short by Ryan Loew and Matthew Newton that examines Buba’s career. Also showing are a selection of Buba’s films, including Betty’s Corner Café (1976), Washing Walls with Mrs. G. (1980), Mill Hunk Herald (1981), Fade Out (1998) and Ode to a Steeltown (2007), as well as a never-before-seen short.
No Place but Home: An Evening with Filmmaker Tony Buba will take place at 6 p.m. in the CMOA Theater. A post-screening Q&A with Buba will follow. Admission is free, but seating is limited.