Three Rivers Film Festival returns for 37th season |

Three Rivers Film Festival returns for 37th season

Mary Pickels
Courtesy of Ben Ogrodnik, Three Rivers Film Festival
“The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress” is part of this year’s Three Rivers Film Festival.
Courtesy of Ben Ogrodnik, Three Rivers Film Festival
From left: Rodessa Barrett Porter, DeLois Barrett Campbell and Billie Barrett GreenBey (The Barrett Sisters) raise the roof performing “He Has Brought Us” in “Say Amen, Somebody,” the 1982 classic gospel documentary directed by George Nierenburg.
Courtesy of Animal Media Group
A scene from the documentary “Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story,” by Pittsburgh fillmmaker Julie Sokolow.

Among the 40-plus films on tap for this year’s Three Rivers Film Festival are several remastered favorites, salutes to theaters of old and a Pittsburgh filmmaker’s premiere.

The festival returns for a 37th edition this month, playing from Nov. 8-23 at a variety of venues. It typically draws about 8,000 filmgoers, planners say.

Center staff and programmers are curating a schedule of independent, foreign, local and experimental films.

“We probably put about six months of work into selecting the films,” says Joseph Morrison, cinema programming director for the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media.

Any special “gets” this year?

“We’ve got Russia’s entry in the Oscars, ‘Beanpole.’ That’s a nice score for us,” Morrison says.

Some of the featured films will have a wide release in the coming year, including “Beanpole.”

“What a festival tries to do is get a scoop for audiences to see early,” he says.

Special festival features, Morrison adds, include “after-hour parties, silent films with live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, filmmakers visiting from afar, and special events at the Carnegie Science Center Giant Rangos Cinema and our own theaters.”

Opening weekend includes several screenings, along with in-person presentations by directors.

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin (“Brand Upon the Brain!” and “My Winnipeg”) presents his found-footage “Vertigo” remake — “The Green Fog” — at Regent Square Theater.

“The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress” opens at the Rangos Cinema, with Catherine Wyler (daughter of director William Wyler) introducing the World War II documentary.

“Her dad directed ‘Ben-Hur,’ ‘Roman Holiday,’ ‘The Best Years of Our Lives,’” Morrison says of William Wyler.

The 1982 gospel documentary “Say Amen, Somebody” screens at the Harris Theater, with director George T. Nierenberg expected to attend.

Both “Memphis Belle” and “Say Amen” are recently restored — and they are beautiful restorations, Morrison says.

Reviving memories

Anyone who loves animals likely will enjoy the Chilean “Los Reyes.”

“It’s a really beautifully told film about two homeless dogs who hang out at skate park, without a human back story,” Morrison says. “It’s a little more adventurous. … It’s something you wouldn’t see in a mainstream Hollywood film.”

“At the Video Store” recalls the gathering place for film buffs.

Fans could talk to each other about their favorites, and employees knew what films to recommend, he says.

Director John Waters and actor Bill Hader are among those who weigh in on the vanishing resource.

Another tribute to the (almost) past is “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace.” The film is a celebration of the ornate movie theaters of the past, Morrison says, many of which are now repurposed as performing arts centers.

“It’s important to remember they began as movie theaters. Going to the theater was an event,” he says.

Hometown scoop

“Kind of a nice score for us is ‘Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story,’ ” Morrison says, written and directed by Julie Sokolow, a Pittsburgh filmmaker.

Sokolow will attend the Pittsburgh premiere on Nov. 16 at the Regent Square Theater. Several featured subjects, film crew, and Baumer’s parents also will attend the screening, after party and question and answer period, Sokolow says.

Sokolow is well known for directing documentaries including “Woman on Fire” and “Aspie Seeks Love.”

“This is my first time showing at the Three Rivers Film Festival. I’ve attended many times. This is a dream come true,” she says.

She describes her film as the story of “an inspiring writer and activist who walked barefoot for over 100 days to protest climate change.” After discovering Baumer through his daily video uploads on social media after he began his walk in October, 2016, in Providence, R.I., Sokolow became a fan.

“His videos made me laugh. He was really funny. He also was an athlete. He had endurance. He walked (15 miles daily) barefoot and had studied how it’s better for your feet. He really thought things through. He really lived his values,” she says.

Those values included eating vegan, as animal agriculture is considered a climate change contributor. He drove no car and had solar panels on his home’s roof, Sokolow says.

“I was just really inspired by him. He was walking at the time (President) Trump was rising in power. He directed his videos more toward what was going on politically at that time,” she says.

Several media outlets picked up his story, but it was Baumer’s death while on his journey that garnered international attention, Sokolow says.

Baumer was struck by a car and killed Jan. 21, 2017, while walking on a road’s shoulder in Florida.

Sokolow reached out to his parents, who are included in the documentary, and spoke with his girlfriend, colleagues and journalists who covered his story.

”We tried to focus the film on his life, rather than his death. He was a joyful person,” Sokolow says.

The film is the Best Premiere Documentary Feature winner at the Heartland International Film Festival.

Festival tickets can be purchased at the Regent Square and Harris theaters individually or in a discount six-pack, or online.


Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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