On May 22, Film Pittsburgh presents the seventh annual Robinson International Short Film Competition Gala at the SouthSide Works Cinema. Open to independent filmmakers worldwide, the event showcases short works that contain an essence of Jewishness as represented by theme, history or culture. Film Pittsburgh received 108 entries from 13 countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, the UK, and the US.
See the featured films and their descriptions below:
116 Cameras (dir. Davina Pardo)
A Holocaust survivor preserves her story interactively so that she will be able to tell it forever. (US, 16 minutes)
The Driver is Red (dir. Randall Christopher)
Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals on the run. (US, 15 minutes)
Large Soldier (dir. Noa Gusakov)
It’s 1973, wartime in Israel, and all that 15-year-old Sherry wants is a boyfriend. A letter exchange with an unknown soldier makes her believe that he’s going to be her first love. But what will happen when the imaginary soldier becomes real? (Israel, 23 minutes)
Life Will Smile (dir. Drey Kleanthous)
Narrated by Haim Konstantini, this documentary relays not only his story of the dramatic events during WWII, but also the story of every one of the 275 Jews that evaded the Nazis on the island of Zakynthos. (Greece, UK, 35 minutes)
Wendy’s Shabbat (dir. Rachel Myers)
This short documentary follows a group of Jewish senior citizens who celebrate their weekly Shabbat at the local Wendy’s fast food restaurant, with Hebrew blessings over burgers and fries. This is a story of rediscovering the joys of community again in older age, and in the longing for ritual, however unorthodox it may appear. (US, 10 minutes)
The gala begins at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the Pittsburgh premieres of all five films, an awards ceremony where three filmmakers will receive a total of $18,000 in cash prizes, and a catered reception. Tickets cost $12, $6 for students 26 and under with ID.
From October 25-29, the August Willson Center will screen 90 films from 20 countries for the first-ever Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival. Presented by Film Pittsburgh, the event will feature special programs, visiting filmmakers, parties, and more.
The festival opens with an opening night showcase of eight films, including Rated. The award-winning short follows Maggie, a wife and mother who must find the courage to own up to her behavior when she wakes up to find every adult has received a YELP-like star rating floating above their head. While most everyone has a shining 4 and 5-star rating, Maggie’s got just 2.5.
The event also includes an after-party with drinks, schmoozing, and food provided by Big Burrito. Tickets for Opening Night cost $15-25.
From there, the festival includes a diverse array of films, including a family matinee with eight kid-friendly shorts. Among the local films presented are three selections from the annual Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project. The group includes Girl Seeking Wood, the story of a young Amish woman whose life changes forever when she finds a cell phone.
Those looking for a fright should check out the Thrills and Chill Program featuring 10 indie horror shorts, including Great Choice, an Overlook Film Festival selection about a woman who gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial. There’s also a Halloween bash with a photo booth, food and drinks, and a live DJ.
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.