Category: Words and Lectures

Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival Highlights Area LGBTQ+ Filmmakers


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!


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


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)


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)


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!


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)


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.


Chatham University Showcases Environmental Docs During Speaker Series



Chatham University will highlight leaders in sustainability and environmentalism during their latest spring Falk School of Sustainability & Environment speaker series. As part of the lineup, the school will feature two documentaries. See schedule and details below:

January 24

3:30 p.m.



A self-described “steward of the earth,” Nance Klehm has built a reputation among environmentalists as an ecological systems designer, a permacultural grower, a horticultural consultant, and a teacher and speaker. Weedeater trots alongside Klehm through various landscapes, gathering together a collection of her thoughts and philosophies on everything from wild, uncultivated weeds to human waste composting to soil. The film attempts to sketch Klehm’s character as well as reflect the depth and complexity of her intimate relationship with the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Includes a talk by Klehm.

March 3

3:30 p.m.

Power of One Voice


The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson examines Carson’s legacy and the continuing implications of her environmental work. The documentary pulls insights from a variety of speakers at the 50th-anniversary celebration of her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.

Includes a discussion with Patti DeMarco, former director of Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute.

Both events take place at the Esther Barazzone Center on Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus.

Hitchcock 52 Swoops In For ‘North By Northwest’ At Row House Cinema


Cary Grant in North by Northwest

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.

Just Films Series Welcomes Alice Walker For Doc Screening


Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil

Last month, four organizations – the Chatham University Women’s Institute, New Voices Pittsburgh, the Women and Girls Foundation, and the Women’s Law Project – launched Just Films. The series includes ten documentaries covering a wide range of issues such as immigration, human trafficking, trans families, and paid leave. Many of the films were made by women and will screen in Pittsburgh for the first time.

On October 27th, Just Films welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker for the Pittsburgh premiere of Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil.


Alice Walker

Directed by Donna C. Roberts and Donna Read, and narrated by Walker, the documentary depicts the Candomblé religion in Bahia, Brazil, a vibrant culture which evolved from the ways of enslaved Africans. Elder women leaders tell stories of Candomblé’s history, social challenges and triumphs, grounded in strong community, and Earth-based wisdom and practice.

Walker will participate in a post-screening panel along with Roberts and Candomblé priestess Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding. Dr. Huberta Jackson-Lowman, president of The Association of Black Psychologists, will serve as moderator.

The Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil screening and panel will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Chatham University. Registration required.

All Just Films events are free and open to the public. The series will continue through June 2017.

Get Campy With Brian Edward In Person & On Film At Bricolage


Does the mention of wire hangers trigger your Faye Dunaway impression? Is Valley of the Dolls one of your favorite films? Do you know what happened to Baby Jane? On September 17th, Bricolage will present a night devoted to camp cinema with Brian Edward In Person & On Film.

Edward, a local performer best known as the creator of the musical comedy Amish Burlesque and host of ‘Burgh Vivant, will use outrageous clips, personal anecdotes and wit to roast an array of classic camp films, including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?Auntie Mame, Sunset Boulevard and Mommie Dearest.

Doors for Brian Edward In Person & On Film at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. The event includes an opening performance by the all-gay improv troupe LGBTQ-Bert. Cocktails and silent auction will follow. Tickets cost $20 and are available for purchase at Showclix. All proceeds benefit the Reel-Q Film Festival.

Russian Film Symposium Looks At Sequels And Repeats


The University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers will present the 18th annual Russian Film Symposium from May 2nd through May 7th. Titled Recycle, Restage, Rewind, the event will interrogate the curiously frequent production of sequels and remakes recently in the Russian film industry. The symposium will also bring well-recognized scholars and critics working in Russian film.

May 2nd

10 a.m.

The Postman’s White Nights (2014)


Directed by Andrei Konchalovskii, and featuring a cast of non-professional actors, this drama produces an elegiac portrait of an isolated Far Northern village where the postman is the only connection to the outside world.

2-ASSA-2 (2009)

2 p.m.


In director Sergei Solovjev‘s sequel to ASSA, the heroine of the original cult film completes her 22-year prison sentence for killing her lover. Once out, she experiences some peculiar twists of fate.

May 3rd

10 a.m.

The Forty First (1956)


Based on the eponymous novel by Boris Lavrenyev, director Grigorii Chukhrai‘s groundbreaking Soviet exploration of sentiment and sexuality tells the story of a tragic romance between a female Red Army sniper and a White Army officer.

2 p.m.

Dukhless 2 (2015)


Playboy Max Andreyev tries to turn over a new leaf, living on an island in South-East Asia. But certain circumstances force him to go back home, where he faces a difficult choice.

May 4th

10 a.m.

Elki 2 (2011)


The continuation of a highly popular Russian franchise about people coming together for the holidays follows a little a little girl writing a letter to Santa, a group of teenagers, a evil official and a wealthy businessman.

7:30 p.m.

Forbidden Empire (Viy) (2014)


An 18th century English cartographer, Jonathan Green, sets out on a journey to map the uncharted lands of Transylvania, only to discover the dark secrets and dangerous creatures hidden in a cursed, fantastical Ukrainian forest.

May 5th

10 a.m.

Vocal Parallels (2005)


A film “tapestry” finely woven from the preserved threads of the Soviet empire. Directed by Rustam Khamdamov.

7:30 p.m.

Angels of Revolution (2014)


Legendary Communist fighter, the beautiful Polina-Revoluzia, is asked by the newborn Soviet government to bring order to the north of the Soviet Union. The shamans of the two native populations, Khanty and Nenets, refuse the new ideology. Polina convinces five of her friends to go with her, former colleagues-in-arms who have now become metropolitan artists: a composer, a sculptor, a theatre director, a Constructivist architect, a famous director. They will have to try and reconcile the culture of the Russian Avant-garde with the Ancient Paganism of the peoples who live in the virgin forest around the great Siberian river Ob. Based on a true story.

May 6th

10 a.m.

Kiss Them All! 2: We Will Live (2014)


A comic battle for control over the usually somber funeral ritual. Directed by Zhora Kryzhovnikov.

2 p.m.

The Irony of Fate 2 (2016)


The classic 1976 romantic comedy continues when a batch of new characters, all children of the original film’s heroes, finds their fates becoming intertwined.

7:30 p.m.

The Dawns Are Quiet Here (2015)


A remake of a World War II film about a group of young female anti-aircraft gunners. Directed by Renat Davletiarov.

May 7th

7:30 p.m.

The Land of Oz (2015)


Set in the industrial, frozen Urals, this modern interpretation of the classic Oz story is full of incredible events, unexpected meetings, spontaneous confrontations and fairy-tale solutions of emotional conflicts.

Daytime panels and screenings are free and will take place on Pitt’s campus at 1500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall. Evening screenings will take place at Melwood Screening Room and are $8 regular admission, $7 for seniors and students, $4 for Pitt and Art Institute students.

Sembéne Presents An Evening With Julie Dash


On April 5th, the Sembéne Film & Arts Festival will spend a retrospective evening with celebrated filmmaker Julie Dash at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Dash has written, directed and produced stories about the black experience for film and TV. In 1991, her debut feature Daughters of the Dust, a period drama about three generations of Gullah women on St. Helena Island, became the first theatrically released feature-length film by an African-American woman in the US. She has also received honors and awards from various organizations and festivals for her work.

An Evening with Julie Dash will begin at 5:30 p.m. and includes an informal Q&A with Dash and screenings of clips from her extensive filmography. Filmmaker Billy Jackson will moderate. A dessert reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Guests can register at Eventbrite.

The talk is in correlation with the Carnegie Mellon University Lecture Series presentation of Requiem for Rice. The national multimedia event is a tribute to those enslaved, exploited and brutalized on Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations who remain, unburied, unmourned and unmarked. Dash, who serves as part of the project’s creative team, will also appear at the event.

Requiem for Rice will take place on April 4th at 4:30 p.m. in CMU’s Porter Hall 100.

CMOA Pays Respects To ‘The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music’


Established in 2006, The Propeller Group, an artist collective based in Ho Chi Minh and Los Angeles, creates multimedia work that combines filmmaking, advertising, politics, and history. On October 22nd, the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) will present a screening and talk to open its fall Forum Gallery exhibition, which features The Propeller Group’s work The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music.

The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music is a visual and musical journey through the fantastical funerary traditions of South Vietnam. Part documentary and part visionary reenactment, the 21-minute video follows brass band musicians, spiritual mediums, professional criers, and street performers through the mournful and euphoric public ceremonies of a multi-day wake: a set of colorful rituals that resonate with funeral traditions in New Orleans and other parts of the “global south.”

The Propeller Group reception and artist talk will begin at 6:30 p.m. The evening includes a post-screening discussion with Propeller Group founders Phunam Thuc Ha, Matt Lucero, and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, as well as special guest Dr. Matt Sakakeeny, Assistant Professor of Music at Tulane University. A cocktail reception in the Scaife foyer will follow. Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to RSVP at the CMOA website. The Propeller Group: The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music exhibition will run from October 23rd through March 21st in the museum’s Forum Gallery.

Kelly Strayhorn Looks Behind ‘The Mask You Live In’


On October 21st, Kelly Strayhorn Theater will host a screening event for The Mask You Live In. Presented by The Girls Coalition of SWPA and 3E Now, an organization dedicated to preventing dating violence and gender inequality, the film examines how toxic masculinity limits boys and their ability to develop healthy relationships.

The documentary from director Jennifer Siebel Newsom follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men. Experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media also weigh in, offering empirical evidence of the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it. The film ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.

The Mask You Live In screening event will begin at 5:30 p.m. A panel discussion featuring representatives from 3E Now and PAAR will be moderated by Jodi Hirsh, the Director of Communications for Councilman Dan Gilman and Social Media Manager of the Southwest PA Says No More Initiative. The evening includes light dinner, dessert, and beverages. Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at Eventbrite.

2015 Russian Film Symposium Revisits Key Moments Of Soviet Past


The University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers will present the 17th annual Russian Film Symposium from May 4th through May 9th. Under the title Red Empire Reloaded, the event promises to examine how, over the past 25 years, Russian cinema has been marked by the dominance of feature films, many of which are dramatic interpretations of the major events of Soviet rule. The symposium will also bring well-recognized scholars and critics working in Russian film. See schedule and details below:

May 4th

10 a.m.

Cuckoo (2002)


As the Nazis prepare to pull out of Finland, a young Finnish conscript is left chained to a rock in Lapland, instructed to kill as many Russian soldiers as he can before he dies. Freeing himself, he makes his way to a farm where a widowed Lapp woman is nursing an injured Russian officer back to health. Despite the lack of a common language between any of them, the two men form an uneasy trust for each other and a strong shared attraction for their unlikely caregiver.

2 p.m.

First on the Moon (2005)


Director Aleksei Fedorchenko‘s mockumentary follows a group of journalists who uncover a sensational story: that even before the Second World War, in 1938, the first rocket was made in the USSR and Soviet scientists were planning to send an orbiter to the moon and back.

May 5th

10 a.m.

Star (2002)


Director Nikolai Lebedev’s Star is the second film adaptation of the eponymous short story by Emmanuil Kazakevich about a group of Soviet scouts working behind German lines during World War II.

2 p.m.

Harvest Time (2003)


The debut feature film by Marina Razbezhkina tells the story of Antonina, a combine operator in a small Russian village who supports her amputee husband and their two small boys. Her family begins to fall apart, however, when Antonina receives a special award for her work.

May 6th

10 a.m.

Franz + Polina (2006)


Set in 1943, Mikhail Segal‘s romantic war drama tells the story of Franz, an SS soldier who deserts, and Polina, a Belarusian woman whose village is massacred.

2:30 p.m.

Round table discussion featuring Russian film scholars Nancy Condee and Anton Dolin.

7:30 p.m.

Fragment of an Empire (1929)


Director Fridrikh Ermler‘s silent Soviet film follows a man who loses his memory during the Russian Revolution and regains it 10 years later in St. Petersburg. The screening will feature live musical accompaniment.

May 7th

10 a.m.

Stalingrad (2013)


Director Fedor Bondarchuk‘s WWII epic follows a band of Russian soldiers who fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and, in the process, become deeply connected to a Russian woman who has been living there. Stalingrad is noted for being the highest grossing Russian film of all time and the first one shot in 3D.

7:30 p.m.

Test (2014)


The story surrounding the first nuclear bomb test conducted in Semipalatinsk in 1949 follows a girl named Dina who lives with her father, Tolgat, in an isolated house in the Central Asian steppe.

May 8th

10 a.m.

Escape from Afghanistan (1994)


Loosely based on the so-called Badaber Uprising, the film from Timur Bekmambetov and Gennadii Kaiumov – which was originally titled The Peshawar Waltz – follows several Soviet and Afghan POWs who revolt and take over a military fortress.

2 p.m.

The Thief (1997)


The harsh realities of a post-WWII Soviet Union are seen through the eyes of Sania, a six-year-old boy whose widowed mother falls in love with a charming criminal.

7:30 p.m.

 Ordered to Forget (2014)


Banned at the 2014 Moscow International Film Festival, the film follows a young couple who witness a horrifying war crime during Stalin’s mass deportation of Chechen and Ingush people in 1944.

May 9th

11 a.m.

Roundtable discussion featuring Russian film scholars Vladimir Padunov and Valeriia Gorelova.

7:30 p.m.

The Hope Factory (2013/14)


The debut film from director Nataliia Meshchaninova tells the story of 17-year-old Svetlana, who dreams of leaving her bleak hometown of Norilsk.

Daytime panels and screenings are free and will take place on Pitt’s campus at 1500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall. Evening screenings will take place at Melwood Screening Room and are $8 regular admission, $7 for seniors and students, $4 for Pitt and Art Institute students.