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.
In 2012, artist John “Derf” Backderf released My Friend Dahmer, a memoir-style graphic novel about his teenage friendship with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The work went on to become a huge success and, not surprisingly, was adapted into a soon-to-be-released feature film. On December 1-2, Southside Works Cinema will welcome Backderf for two screenings of My Friend Dahmer.
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the American Midwest, becoming one of history’s most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story. Jeff is an awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school with a family life in ruins. His bizarre behavior at school attracts unexpected friends, a group of band-nerds who form The Dahmer Fan Club, headed by Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff). But as they near graduation, Jeff’s depravity continues to take hold, and he spirals further out of control. Written for the screen and directed by Marc Meyers, the film stars Ross Lynch of Disney Channel fame and Alex Wolff.
The special My Friend Dahmer screening events will take place on December 1 at 7:30 p.m. and on December 2 at 2:20 p.m. Q&As with Backderf will follow both shows. Tickets are available online or at the Southside Works Cinema box office.
Micah True, better known as Caballo Blanco – the White Horse – was the central figure of Christopher McDougall’s 2009 best-selling nonfiction book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen about the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico. Also known as the Rarámuri, or Running People, they are some of the best long-distance runners in the world. On December 7th, Southside Works Cinema will look at True’s legacy and his relationship with the Rarámuri with an exclusive documentary screening.
Directed by Sterling Noren, Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco chronicles True’s life and his quest to promote and preserve Tarahumara running tradition. Caballo Blanco lived and ran with the Tarahumara after moving to remote Copper Canyon in the 1990s, and created the 50-mile Copper Canyon Ultra-Marathon to honor their running traditions and aid in their sustainability. Now in its thirteenth year, the race attracts hundreds of local Tarahumara to the village of Urique to compete alongside some of the best runners in the world. All race finishers receive five hundred pounds of corn, which the international runners traditionally donate to the local Tarahumara, commemorating the spirit of sharing, or kórima, which is a way of life among the natives of Copper Canyon.
Most of the material for the film was recorded in the weeks leading up to the 2012 race. Shortly after that race, True disappeared in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico during his daily run, prompting ultra-runners from all over the country to drop everything and join in the search. His body was discovered several days later on a trail in a deserted canyon.
Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco will screen at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance at the film website or $15 at the door. Discounted tickets for $11 are also available from the event sponsor, Fleet Feet Sports Pittsburgh. A percentage of the film’s profits, including DVD sales, will benefit Norawas de Rarámuri (Friends of the Running People), the non-profit agency founded by True to preserve traditional Tarahumara culture.
On March 15th, Southside Works Cinema will host the premiere of Pittsburgh State of Mind, a documentary about key players in the city’s hip-hop community.
Director Jay Ruff Bone White provides an in depth look at Pittsburgh’s hip-hop music scene, focusing primarily on the inner city. Various artists break down what it’s like to being an entertainer in the Steel City, and give insight to the past, present and the future of Pittsburgh’s hip-hop scene. The film features appearances by Hardo, Deezlee, Asco, Wiz Khalifa, and Chevy Woods.
The Pittsburgh State of Mind premiere will begin at 4 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the box office.
As the largest online news source in the world, The Young Turks (TYT) has worked to inform hundreds of millions of viewers and listeners on the latest issues. The multiple award-winning, teleprompter-free show has become a top YouTube partner, and expanded into a network that includes programs on politics, pop culture, lifestyle and sports. On Nov. 10th, Southside Works Cinema examines the entity’s growing influence with a one-time screening of the documentary Mad As Hell.
The Young Turks has amassed a YouTube network of over two million subscribers and two billion views. But that wasn’t always the case. Director Andrew Napier documents the trajectory of Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks’ main host and founder, as he goes from unknown Public Access TV host to internet sensation by way of YouTube. When he ventures into national television by landing a time slot on MSNBC, Cenk’s uncensored brand of journalism is compromised as he becomes a thorn in the side of traditional news media.
This summer, filmmaker Jake Mulliken expanded his award-winning short Meltdown into a full-length feature, then celebrated its completion by helping to create a film festival in Somerset, PA. On September 24th, the work will make its Pittsburgh premiere at Southside Works Cinema.
Influenced by Shaun of the Dead and Mad Max, the zombie comedy follows Zeke (Robert McMurray), Callie (Alicia Marie Marcucci), Les (Seth Gontkovic) and Hunter (Mulliken) on the eve of Hunter’s 29th birthday as they share in a few drinks on a seemingly dull day in their hometown of Somerset. The day takes a turn for the worse as everyone they have ever known are suddenly transformed into aggressively murderous flesh eating freaks. The four comrades are forced to hack and slash their way through the reanimated corpses of their closest friends and loved ones, only to find themselves on the precipice of a post apocalyptic wasteland littered with monsters and the looming threat of their fellow survivors.
Meltdown begins at 7 p.m. A reception will take place in the lobby at 6 p.m. Admission price includes a movie poster, food, and a chance to compete in a Zombie Costume Contest. The contest winner will receive $100 and a walk-on role in the Meltdown sequel. Tickets are $20 and are available for purchase at the Southside Works Cinema website.
Are you a sci-fi fan? Have you seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? If you answered yes to both of those, then the Southside Works Cinema has just the event for you. On July 15th, the theater will present an exclusive screening of Coherence, the indie sci-fi thriller starring Buffy‘s own Nicholas Brendon.
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, the feature film debut from writer-director James Ward Byrkit – which won numerous accolades at Fantastic Fest, the Sitges International Film Festival, and the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festval – quickly ratchets up the tension as its numerous complex mysteries unfold. Coherence features Emily Foxler (Mad Men), Maury Sterling (Homeland), Elizabeth Gracen, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher (Pirates of the Caribbean), Hugo Armstrong, Lorene Scafaria, and Brendon.
Coherence begins at 7:30 p.m. As an bonus, a Q&A with Brendon will follow the screening. Tickets are $12 and are available for purchase at Gathr or at the box office.
In 1996, DJ Peanut Butter Wolf created an independent record label as a means of posthumously releasing the late MC Charles Hicks/Charizma’s debut album. The endeavor soon grew into a multi-generational, international powerhouse in the underground music scene. On April 3rd, Southside Cinema Works will shed light on the music institution’s enduring legacy with a screening of Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton.
Directed by Jeff Broadway, this feature-length documentary focuses on avant-garde Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records. Under the direction of founder and world-renowned DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, Stones Throw has consistently released critically acclaimed, left-of-center albums. The film weaves together rare concert footage, never-before-seen archival material, inner-circle home video and photographs to provide an exclusive look into the label’s artists, history, culture, and global following. Features exclusive interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D of The Beastie Boys, Tyler the Creator, and many more.
Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton screens at 7:30 p.m.
Director Gregorio Smith lifts the veil on the seemingly benign Jehovah’s Witnesses religion to expose a profit-driven, isolationist culture characterized by fear, totalitarian corporate leadership, intellectual and spiritual intimidation, suspension of critical thinking, failed prophecies, doctrinal inconsistency, and improper handling of physical and sexual abuse allegations within the church. Smith – who was born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness – gathers a number of former practitioners willing to candidly discuss growing up inside the religion. They reveal experiences including the effects of proselytizing door-to-door, shunning non-observant family and friends, suffering the discouragement of pursuing dreams like gaining a higher education, and missing societal holidays and customs. Ultimately, the film reveals why Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious organization, with only 37 percent of those raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses continuing their affiliation.
The Truth Be Told screening begins at 7:30 p.m. A director Q&A will follow. Tickets are $11 general admission. Guests must reserve their seats at the film’s Tugg account.
For almost 15 years, Docurama Films has presented audiences with the most acclaimed documentaries of our era, including Oscar-nominated films The Invisible War and Detropia. This month, the company will launch a 7-week, 7-film series of screenings in theaters across the country. The films include newly acquired titles fresh off the festival circuit, and spans the breadth of subject matter currently occupying documentary filmmakers: politics, the environment, social issues, personal profiles and pop culture. Beginning April 25th, Southside Works Cinema will bring the Docurama Festival to Pittsburgh.
Written and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock (Maya Lin: A Strong Vision), G-Dog is the remarkable story of Father Greg Boyle, a white Jesuit priest in East Los Angeles, and the tough street kids there who love him.
Vivan Las Antipodas
Russian director Victor Kossakovsky’s kaleidoscopic documentary juxtaposes tranquil landscapes of Argentina with the clamor of Shanghai – two of eight “antipodes” explored in this beautifully rendered world-spanning film.
The World Before Her
Moving between the transformative action of a boot camp in Bombay for beauty pageant contestants and Durgha Vahini, a right-wing military camp for young women, director Nisha Pahuja places the faces and voices of young Indian women at the center of her provocative film.
The Fruit Hunters
Acclaimed actor and community activist Bill Pullman (Independence Day, 1600 Penn) stars in director Yung Chang’s exploration of nature’s sweetest bounty.
From the director of Faster and Fastest (Mark Neale), and narrated by actor and motorcycle enthusiast Ewan McGregor, Charge is proof that maniacs on motorcycles can be a force for global good.
Veteran TV producer Hugh Hartford’s debut documentary feature follows 8 senior citizens from around the world – with 703 years between them – competing for gold in the Over 80 Table Tennis Championship in Inner Mongolia.
London: The Modern Babylon
Director Julien Temple (Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten) time-travels through London from the start of the 20th century to the 2012 Olympics, threading past and present voices with film archives and popular music across the century.
Showtime is 7 p.m. for all films. Each feature screening will be preceded by a 3-minute short film from GE Focus Forward. Regular admission rates apply to all screenings.