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 22, Waterworks 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.
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 [Julien] Duvivier 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.
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 Canada, hundreds of women – a majority of them indigenous – have become victim to a decades-long epidemic of disappearances and murder. On March 16, Chatham University and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will delve into this atrocity with an International Women’s Day screening of the documentary Finding Dawn.
Finding Dawn puts a human face on a tragedy that has received precious little attention – and one which is surprisingly similar to the situation in Ciudad Juarez, on the other side of the U.S. border. Dawn Crey, Ramona Wilson, and Daleen Kay Bosse are just three of the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past 30 years. Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh embarks on an epic journey to shed light on these murders and disappearances that remain unresolved to this day. She begins at Vancouver’s skid row where more than 60 poor women disappeared and travels to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia where more than two dozen women (all but one Native) have vanished.
This film illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Aboriginal women. It highlights the disturbing, worldwide culture of impunity that allows murders of women – especially those who are poor, indigenous, or sex workers – to go unsolved and unpunished.
The Finding Dawn screening event begins at 5 p.m. at Chatham’s Laughlin Hall. Dinner is included. Welsh will give a post-screening interview via Skype with Dr. Prajna Parasher, director of Chatham’s Film and Digital Technology program. There will also a discussion on human trafficking of women and girls led by Dr. Mary Burke, professor of psychology at Carlow University and founder of the Project to End Human Trafficking.
Registration for this event is closed. Those interested in attending can email Nayab Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to a waiting list.
In 1993, Philadelphia became one of the first mainstream films to depict the struggles of people living with HIV/AIDS. On March 13 and 15, Row House Cinema hosts two fundraiser screenings of the drama for the Pittsburgh-based LGBTQ+ organization Proud Haven.
Hailed as a landmark film, Philadelphia stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington as two competing lawyers who join forces to sue a prestigious law firm for AIDS discrimination. As their unlikely friendship develops, their courage overcomes the prejudice and corruption of their powerful adversaries. Hanks went on to win the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance.
The Philadelphia benefit screenings take place on March 13 at 7 p.m. and March 15 at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $11. $3 of each ticket sold will go towards Proud Haven, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and unstably housed LGBTQ+ youth in the Pittsburgh region find resources and housing options. The screenings are presented as part of Row House’s Denzel Washingon week.
On March 1, influential filmmaker Julie Dash visits the Waterworks Cinemas for a screening of her groundbreaking 1991 film Daughters of the Dust. Presented by Requiem for Rice, an organization preserving the memory of the millions of enslaved, exploited and brutalized people who worked the rice plantations of Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia, the event also serves as a tribute to Gullah food and culture.
Set during the dawn of the 20th century, Daughters of the Dust follows a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina – former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions – who struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots. The first wide release by a Black female filmmaker, the film has cast a long legacy that still resonates today, most recently as a major in influence on Beyonce’s video album Lemonade.
The event includes a Gullah Geechee food tasting catered by Steeltown Gumbo & Catering, who will offer samples of Nouveau Sweet Tea, shrimp and grits, benne seed wafers with homemade pimento piped rosettes, vegan Hoppin’ John salad and okra stew, Red Requiem Rice, and banana pudding.
The food tasting takes place at 6 p.m. followed by remarks from Dash at 7 p.m. The film shows at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the full event cost $25-30 in advance, $35 at the door. Tickets for the screening only cost $10-12 in advance, $15 at the door.
On February 11, the Big Idea Bookstore and the Pittsburgh chapter of Redneck Revolt, a national network dedicated to anti-capitalist and anti-racist organizing in poor and working-class white communities, will present a screening and discussion of the film Matewan.
The acclaimed 1987 historical drama from director John Sayles depicts the events leading up to the real-life Battle of Matewan. Chris Cooper stars as a union organizer sent in to rally exploited local, immigrant and Black coal miners in 1920 West Virginia. When thugs from a notorious detective agency are sent in to terrorize and evict striking miners, it soon leads to one of the bloodiest clashes in American labor union history.
Matewan screens at 5:30 p.m. Afterwards, Redneck Revolt will lead a discussion about the themes of class, race, labor militancy and working-class rebellion presented in the film. Food will be provided and guests are welcome to bring something to share. A donation of $5 is suggested but not required.
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.
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.
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.