Film Kitchen returns with virtual Halloween short film program | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Film Kitchen returns with virtual Halloween short film program

click to enlarge Halloween '85 - GEORGEN HORNBEIN AND KEN THIGPEN
Georgen Hornbein and Ken Thigpen
Halloween '85
It wasn't that long ago that cinema buffs were able to enjoy Film Kitchen, the monthly film series dedicated to showcasing locally made films. Now, after a long absence, Film Kitchen returns with a special Halloween-themed event.

“I felt like it never really ended,” says Matthew Day, who ran Film Kitchen for 10 years as an employee of the event's host venue, Pittsburgh Filmmakers. “It was just on hiatus.”

The last Film Kitchen at Pittsburgh Filmmakers was in Oct. 2018, a few months before the media arts school closed and the building was purchased by Carnegie Mellon University.

Taking place virtually on Tue., Oct. 20, the new Film Kitchen will include a lineup of “seasonally appropriate shorts from some of Film Kitchen's favorite makers,” according to a press release. Viewers can expect to see 5 Day Rental, a 2005 slasher short set inside a now-extinct Blockbuster Video, plus selections from area artists like Ana Armengod, Tess Allard, John Kirch, Amy Maurine Edwards, and Pat Francart.

The hour-long event kicks off a new era for Film Kitchen, which Day says will come back and take place on the second Tuesday of each month. An abstract animation program is already planned for November.

The event will be co-presented with Jump Cut Theater, formerly the nonprofit organization, Friends of The Hollywood Theater. Since losing their longtime home, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, the group has worked to present film programming throughout the city.
Day says that, while the event will be online via Jump Cut Theater's Twitch stream, they are still tried to create a communal theater feel. This includes offering Q&As with the filmmakers. “We're still trying to have the feeling of the old Film Kitchen, but different in the way of delivering it,” says Day.

Day curated the event with Jump Cut vice president and Flea Market Films founder, Steven Haines, who wanted to bring in filmmakers he worked with on past Halloween film programs. This includes Autumnal Oddities, an annual event described as a mash-up of vintage clips, 16mm educational films, and horror shorts by Pittsburgh artists. (The next one is set for Tue., Oct. 27 on the Flea Market Films Twitch stream).

“We tried to choose something new, not the same films I've shown before,” says Haines.

But he says he did get one special request from Day for the short documentary Halloween '85. Directed by Georgen Hornbein and Ken Thigpen, the 1985 VHS film captures children and adults celebrating Halloween in State College, Pa.
click to enlarge Zombie Fest 2013 - JOHN KIRCH
John Kirch
Zombie Fest 2013
While the film has shown at Autumnal Oddities, Day says it will be “brand new” for Film Kitchen audiences. It also offers a chance for people to discover what Haines calls a rare film – there are only a few copies of Halloween '85, including one available through the Penn State University library system.

While Film Kitchen had always hosted Halloween programs, usually saving the spookier submissions for October, Day believes this year carries more meaning.

“This Halloween is so unusual because of the pandemic,” says Day, adding that this will be a nostalgic show about Halloweens past. “I think it's very comforting this year to have that.”

Film Kitchen Halloween Shorts. 7 p.m. Tue., Oct. 20. Free.

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