Get your eyeballs ready: The 32nd annual Three Rivers Film Festival opens Fri., Nov. 8, and runs through Nov. 23. On the slate are more than six dozen films, including: indies, foreign films, documentaries, shorts, a new microcinema component and various special events.
Also new this year is a fourth venue. In addition to the three Pittsburgh Filmmakers theaters — Regent Square, in Edgewood; Harris, Downtown; and Melwood, in North Oakland — there will be screenings at the Waterworks Theater, in Aspinwall.
"The North Hills is an area that really doesn't have an art theater, and we're introducing the festival to that region," explains Gary Kaboly, Filmmakers' director of exhibition. Thus patrons will have four films to choose from on opening night, with a post-screening party at Filmmakers' Oakland facility.
Among the new films being exhibited are documentaries about controversial figures (Lance Armstrong, Morton Downey Jr.) and quirky fare (cocktails and car exhaust), as well as sneak peeks of upcoming theatrical releases such as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Philomena. Also booked: classics to revisit such as 1964 Civil-Rights-era indie Nothing But a Man, Isao Takahata's gorgeous and devastating anti-war anime, Grave of the Fireflies (1988), and the 1979 sci-fi horror oddity The Visitor.
For the more adventurous, check out one or more of the five microcinema programs being held around town. Laura Jean Kahl, exhibition coordinator for Filmmakers, helped organize this new component. Microcinema, she explains, offers "alternative content, in DIY spaces, outside theater walls." The experience is designed to be more casual and intimate. One event at Brillobox will have "a happy hour/cocktail kind of vibe," another combines film with brunch, and PERV takes place at The Shop, "which is usually a punk place." Two of Pittsburgh's original microcinemas — Orgone and Jefferson Presents ... — will also be coming out of retirement for the festival.
The festival wraps up Nov. 23 with the return of the popular Alloy Orchestra performing live musical accompaniment to two silent films: for the whole family, a classic Buster Keaton comedy, The General, and for those who prefer darker fare, the 1924 Lon Chaney melodrama, He Who Gets Slapped.
All tickets are available in advance at www.showclix.com. Regular screenings are $9 ($10 at door); opening- and closing-night films are $15. A six-ticket pass to regular screenings is available for $50, and may be purchased at the theaters or Filmmakers' offices.
Two of the opening-night films are previewed on the next page. Follow CP's Blogh for continuing coverage of the film festival at www.pghcitypaper.com/blogs/blogh.