Skipping stones usually conjures images of lazy summer afternoons spent by the lake. But for one very specific subculture, the act means so much more. On August 17, Row House Cinema explores how a fun pastime became a sport with the Pittsburgh premiere of Skips Stones For Fudge.
The documentary from directors Ryan Seitz and Daniel Skaggs capture the drama that occurs when the Zen art of stone skipping meets the competitive nature of mankind. Although the sport is relatively unknown to the masses, it is steeped in tradition, bitter rivalries and the constant pursuit for the Guinness World Record.
For over a decade, Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars and Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner have endured a rivalry that lifted competitive stone skipping to unthinkable heights. Tested by physical ailments, emotional hardships and the rise of young talent, these obscure legends fight to cement their place in the record books. [Synopsis courtesy of Highway Goat Productions]
Skips Stones For Fudge screens at 7 p.m. Event includes an interview with special guests Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner, Dave “Spiderman” Ohmer, and Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars. Tickets cost $9.
After the film, join Steiner, Ohmer, and Byars as they demonstrate their skills on the Allegheny River under the 40th Street Bridge. The post-screening event begins at 8:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
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.
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.
Since he broke onto the scene in 1977 with his ultra-bizarre experimental film Eraserhead, David Lynch has remained one of cinema’s most eccentric personalities both on and off screen (check out what he did for his long-time muse, Laura Dern). Now fans will get to see what shaped this curious visionary when Row House Cinema presents the Pittsburgh premiere of David Lynch: The Art Life.
The documentary from Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard looks at Lynch’s art, music, and films, shining a light into the dark corners of his unique world and giving audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist. Shot over a four-year span, the film offers private views from Lynch’s compound and painting studio in the hills high above Hollywood, as he tells personal stories that informed his early works.
David Lynch: The Art Life screens from May 26-June 1 as part of The Artistry of David Lynch week.
The independent feature film from writer/producer/director John Jaquish follows a group of criminals who, while fleeing a gun possession charge, take over a farm in rural Appalachia and try to secede from the United States. The film, which was shot in West Virginia on black-and-white 35mm film, used an all-Pittsburgh crew, as well as some local acting talent.
The Mutineer premiere takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7. The screening includes appearances by Jaquish along with a number of cast and crew members.
Cartoonist Dash Shaw recently made waves (pun intended) when he premiered My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, an absurd animated feature that’s exactly what the title suggests. On April 25, Row House Cinema welcomes Shaw for the Pittsburgh premiere of his new work.
Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) are preparing for another year at Tides High School muckraking on behalf of their widely-distributed but little-read school newspaper, edited by their friend Verti (Maya Rudolph). But just when a blossoming relationship between Assaf and Verti threatens to destroy the boys’ friendship, Dash learns of the administration’s cover-up that puts all the students in danger. As disaster erupts and the friends race to escape through the roof of the school, they are joined by a popular know-it-all (Lena Dunham) and a lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) who is much more than meets the eye, in this wild send-up of disaster cinema, high school comedy, and blockbuster satire. (Synopsis courtesy of GKIDS)
The My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea Pittsburgh premiere begins at 7:15 p.m. Shaw and cartoonist Frank Santoro will kick off the event with a live interview followed by the screening. Tickets cost $12, $20 for VIP tickets that include a private meet-and-greet in the Bierport taproom. The film will continue to show as part of Row House’s High School Sucks week.
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.
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.
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.