The Three Rivers Film Festival | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Three Rivers Film Festival

The 27th annual Three Rivers Film Festival, presented by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, continues through Sun., Nov. 23. The program of more than 40 films includes foreign-language works, American independents, documentaries, shorts, local works and experimental cinema, as well as the just-added local premiere of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, on Sun., Nov. 23.

Tickets for most films are $8 each. A Six Pack festival pass offers six single admissions for $40, plus a free T-shirt. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance from ProArts (412-394-3353 or See for complete purchase information for tickets and passes.

All films screen at the Harris Theater, Downtown (809 Liberty Ave.); the Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland (477 Melwood Ave.); or the Regent Square Theater, Edgewood (1035 S. Braddock). For more information, call 412-681-5449 or visit


Following are reviews and descriptions of films screening through Sun., Nov. 23.


CHERRY BLOSSOMS. Doris Dörrie's drama, drawn from Ozu's classic Tokyo Story, tells the story of Rudi -- an aging, unimaginative bureaucrat who is echt Deutsch right down to his fondness for wurst -- and his wife, Trudi, who longs to see Japan. The two confront death without quite realizing it, which is how Rudi has approached life as well. Elmar Weppel turns in a nuanced performance of a man only now recognizing what he has lost, and a supporting cast skillfully depicts a family stewing with resentment. But the script runs toward the mawkish, with East-meets-West clichés and ham-fisted metaphors. I mean, do we have to be told what cherry blossoms symbolize? In English, and German and Japanese, with subtitles. 8 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20. Regent Square (Chris Potter)


ERNIE GEHR: EARLY WORKS. A selection of the celebrated experimental filmmaker's early influential work, including "Serene Velocity," will be presented. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 19. Melwood


HOW ABOUT YOU. A young woman with a short temper ends up minding the cantankerous residents of an Irish nursing home. Anthony Byrne directs this film, adapted from a Maeve Binchy short story, and starring Vanessa Redgrave, Imelda Staunton and Brenda Fricker. 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21. Harris


THE KOREAN. In the first 30 minutes of Thomas Dixon's crime thriller, a lot of people get betrayed and/or shot. What it all means is less obvious, since the nonlinear style employed early causes as much confusion as intrigue. Eventually the story straightens out and the pieces fall into a familiar pattern: A crime boss is being double-crossed and his "cleaner," the titular Korean (Josiah D. Lee) is moving a lot of the pieces, probably in his favor. Dixon, a Robert Morris grad and an alum of Pittsburgh Filmmakers, shot the film in Pittsburgh, and with a number of local actors. 9:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21. Harris (Al Hoff)


MOCK UP ON MU. Longtime underground hero Craig Baldwin's "not untrue saga" weaves fictional versions of larger-than-life figures like L. Ron Hubbard, occultist Marjorie Cameron, rocket scientist Jack Parsons and even Aleister Crowley into a fast-paced, appropriated-footage comic fantasia about the militarization of outer space. Dozens of vintage science-fiction films provide the clips Baldwin and ace editors Bill Daniel and Sylvia Schedelbauer join to original footage so that the female hero and other characters, each with multiple and ever-shifting "avatars," come to seem archetypal. It's high camp, conspiracy theories and social philosophy about moon colonization, Scientology, 007, Vegas, Disney and a fat, bald heavy named "Lockheed Martin" -- all with a warning about how "stories can be a most effective way of manipulating people." 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21. Melwood (Bill O'Driscoll)


THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH. The long-awaited adaptation of Michael Chabon's 1988 debut novel gets its local premiere. The coming-of-age story, set and filmed in Pittsburgh, focuses on one possibility-filled summer of a recent college grad. Peter Sarsgaard and Sienna Miller star; Rawson Marshall directs. 8 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. $9 ($6 for pass holders and Screenie members). Regent Square


ONE DAY YOU'LL UNDERSTAND. In Amos Gitai's drama set in France during the mid-1980s, Victor (Hippolyte Girardot) obsesses about his family's past and its possible connection to the Holocaust. His mother (Jeanne Moreau) is particularly evasive, seemingly wanting to forget what he is so desperate to know. In this meditatively paced film, Victor's quest to uncover the history of the Jewish side of his family ultimately brings all a fresh -- and personal -- understanding of horrific historical events. In French, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Wed., Nov. 19, and 2 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square (Lydia Heyliger)


THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent masterpiece depicts the final hours of the young French woman who sacrificed for God and country. Dreyer's gorgeous, highly stylized film was noted for its striking visuals, particularly the use of facial close-ups. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh performing with composer Richard Einhorn's score for chorus, orchestra and soloists. 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21. Regent Square. $25 (through ProArts only)


PITTSBURGH REFRAMED [AT 250]. In 1958, a short film marking the city's bicentennial was commissioned, completed and shelved; perhaps it was insufficiently boosterish, too weird, or both. Pittsburgh Filmmakers, which now owns the footage, asked some two dozen local artists to incorporate the footage into their own mini-250th Happy Birthdays. In their hands, "Pittsburgh"'s frenetic mix of archival imagery, street scenes, staged sequences and bizarre kaleidoscopic special effects begets everything from purely aesthetic riffs to nutty animations to personal takes on Pittsburgh today (many of which barely incorporate the original material, while others include nothing else). Highlights include an irreverent and multi-layered one-minute one-liner by Tony Buba; Matthew R. Day's hilarious Mystery Science 3000-style dialogue-dubbing; Jesse McLean's hypnotic "Energy"; and Brady Lewis's collage acerbically reimagining Pittsburgh history as a film noir. Other artists include Mike Bonello (feting Myron Cope), Olivia Ciummo, Carolina Loyola-Garcia, Charlie Humphrey, Minette Seate and Christopher Smalley. 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square. $15 (includes reception at adjacent Concept Art gallery). (BO)


SHORTS PROGRAM A. A variety of short films from regional, national and international artists are screened as part of the festival's shorts competition. (Categories are experimental, narrative, animation and documentary.) Program A includes: "Pig's Ear," Grant Barbeito; "The Dirt on You," Jeremy Braverman; "El Abuelo," Dino Dinco; "Balaton Monks," Mark Edgington; "Crushed," Michael Feldman; "Invoice," Adriane Little; "In the A.M. of Dec. 26th," Paula Malcomson; "Natural Selection: The Rise of the Proletariat," Michael Mallis; "Streetcar Named Perspire," Joanna Priestley; and "Finding Matty's Voice," Jaclyn Spirer. 2 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Melwood


SHORTS PROGRAM B. A variety of short films from regional, national and international artists are screened as part of the festival's shorts competition. (Categories are experimental, narrative, animation and documentary.) Program B includes: "The Ville," Amy Bench; "The Great Melt," Ben Bigelow; "Case Histories in Psychotherapy," Tony Gault; "Communion," Markus Kirschner; "Lake Affect," Jason Livingston; "Symphony," Erick Oh; "The Cave: an Adaptation of Plato's Allegory in Clay," Michael Ramsey; "Emotive," Vanessa Sas; "Peekers," Mark Steensland; "Thurston," Mark Wickline; and "Today I Baled Some Hay to Feed the Sheep the Coyotes Eat," Will Zavala. 4 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Melwood


SONG SUNG BLUE. Middle-aged Milwaukee marrieds Lightning and Thunder are devoted to their regionally successful musical careers channeling Neil Diamond and Patsy Cline, respectively. Then, a freak accident derails the couple in myriad ways. Greg Koh's intimate lo-fi documentary depicts the ongoing struggle of these two never-say-die eccentrics, including a descent that has shades of a John Waters feature and -- of all things -- an Eddie Vedder moment that'll make you cry. Off-beat, funny, inspiring and a little bit heart-breaking: You'll never smirk at a Neil Diamond tune the same way again. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 19. Harris (AH)


TAMAS: A PORTRAIT. After supporting the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets, Tamas Szilagyi fled Budapest for the United States, where he joined the U.S. Army, "tried to dress like Elvis," and took a job as history teacher and soccer coach for The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pa. Director David Conrad, a Kiski grad, documents Szilagyi's years at Kiski and his return to Budapest after 50 years. The unlikely setting of a conservative prep school for such an expansive, colorful character -- and the ways they influence and enrich each other -- are this documentary's motivating forces, though Szilagyi's expansive sense of history and charmingly risqué humor are its stars. 4:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square (Aaron Jentzen)


A WARM HEART. A rich man who needs a heart transplant schemes to get the organ he needs from a depressed young man who may -- conveniently -- be tired of living. This dark comedy is the latest feature from Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi. In Polish, with subtitles. 9 p.m. Wed., Nov. 19. Regent Square

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