From extreme adventure films and Japanese anime, to beer mania and Jewish cinema, April has arrived to revive your mind, body, soul and palate.
1. PIX: Pittsburgh Indie Comix Exposition at 10 S. 19th Street: April 2
Pittsburgh is home to numerous noteworthy and emerging comic book artists and cartoonists as well as a museum dedicated to the art forms. PIX serves as a creative convergence for Pittsburgh’s local community and its connections to an international scene. The free event is a must-see, one-stop-shop for makers, producers, publishers and fans alike. Setting up shop on the South Side, the region’s first-of-its-kind expo of creator-owned, self-published, small press and handmade comics is the brainchild of Copacetic Comics Company owner Bill Boichel, co-presented by Pittsburgh’s own ToonSeum . PIX-goers can peruse and purchase works from 50-plus exhibitors, hear artist presentations, attend creator panels and more. This year’s lineup of literati features everyone from Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith and author Derf Backderf, to RAW alum Kaz and Blammo creator Noah Van Sciver. You can even channel your inner cartoonist at workshops led by artists Frank Santoro and Juan Fernandez offered concurrently at Carnegie Library’s South Side Branch.
2. Banff Mountain Film Festival at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall: April 2 & 3
If you can’t be snowboarding or propelling down a steep peak, then the next best thing is this high-octane showcase of 17 top new titles in action, environmental and adventure filmmaking. Adrenaline, extreme sports and cinematic wizardry collide on the big screen, when this one-of-a-kind film tour rolls into cozy Homestead to celebrate its 41st anniversary and its 14th year in the Burgh. Cling to the edge of your seat as you as you embark on exhilarating expeditions to exotic landscapes, experience remote cultures and leave inspired to embrace the sheer power and beauty of the outdoors. See Natasha Brooks swim naked in the frigid mountain lakes of Wales, watch pro kayaker Rafa Ortiz paddle over deadly Niagara Falls and follow four courageous men and 16 wild mustangs on a 5,000 kilometer trek from Mexico to Canada. Ready to exhale? Purchase tickets now before they sell out.
3. Jazz Appreciation Month: April 5—26
Adding a Pittsburgh flair to national Jazz Appreciation Month (dubbed JAM), multiple Cultural District venues are hosting concerts, jam sessions and special appearances by established and emerging vocalists, instrumentalists and bandleaders. If you’re eagerly awaiting the JazzLive International Festival in June, this hot series is a great first course. Don’t miss the kickoff concert when jazz powerhouses team up to present “4 Generations of Miles” at Cabaret at Theater Square. Witness history in the making when award-winning drummer Jimmy Cobb teams up with Grammy-nominated guitarist Mike Stern, bassist extraordinaire Buster Williams, and alto sax giant Sonny Fortune. It will be hard to sit still during this eclectic homage to Miles’ profound legacy. The series continues April 9 at the August Wilson Center, where soulful singer Maysa will woo audiences with her smooth jazz stylings and impressive vocal range. On April 12, Grammy-winning saxophonist Gary Bartz will heat things up at Cabaret. Jazz Month culminates on April 26, when Grammy Award-winning Jesus “Chuchito” Valdes will dazzle crowds with the Latin jazz sounds of his talented trio. View all JAM events.
4. Tekko at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: April 7—10
Move over Furries, Tekko‘s in town. April will bloom with anime when this leading Japanese pop culture convention sets up shop downtown. Presented by the Pittsburgh Japanese Culture Society, Tekko bustles with fashion shows, gaming, dance contests, 150 vendors, cosplay, educational workshops, panel discussions and more—all creating an immersive and welcoming environment. Bigger than ever, Tekko’s 14th edition boasts lots of new twists and expanded offerings. Head into The Escape Room—if you dare—to compete in themed environments decked out with robots, ninjas and alchemy. Next, check out all of the action via the new live streaming TeamTekko TV. Featured presenters include L.A.-based actor Matt Mercer and voice actors Marisha Ray, Chris Patton and Austin Tindle. Pop culture figures will abound at Tekko, including fashion models Misako Aoki and Lynda Leung, Japanese rock band, Back-On, and Tokyo-based DJ Bass. For those curious, the event’s original moniker, Tekkoshocon, blends the Japanese colloquialism meaning “steel mill” with the suffix for “con.” Even Mayor Peduto is getting in on the fun, proclaiming “Tekko 2016 Week” in Pittsburgh.
5. JFilm Festival: April 7—17
Featuring 21 Pittsburgh premieres from 9 countries, 15 special guests and 11 days of programming, the 23rd annual JFilm Festival is your hot ticket for independent and foreign cinema. Spanning award-winning documentaries, dramas, narratives and comedies, films are augmented by sessions with visiting filmmakers, producers and artists, receptions, “Film Schmooze” discussions and a short film competition. The diverse festival explores and celebrates Jewish culture, independent filmmaking and cultural tolerance. JFILM kicks off with a documentary about one of the most prolific figures in 20th-century television. From Archie Bunker to George Jefferson, he created iconic characters and hit sitcoms, and now directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady turn their lens to Norman Lear himself. A Sundance favorite, Just Another Version Of You pairs firsthand accounts from the 94-year-old producer and activist with insights from George Clooney, Amy Poehler and Rob Reiner. Not to miss is JFILM’s closing night film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, when Natalie Portman makes her writing and directing debut in a dazzling adaptation of the celebrated 2002 memoir by Israeli author Amos Oz. View a schedule and purchase tickets.
6. Bridal Revival at the Hotel Monaco: April 8
Say yes to the dress—again. This time around, without the exorbitant costs and guest list anxiety. If you’re one of the countless brides who looked longingly in the mirror asking: “But will I ever wear it again?” then this event is for you. The brainchild of Glitter & Grit bridal boutique, the first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh event invites one and all to dig out and reimagine those gowns—wedding, bridesmaid, prom and formal alike. A downtown Hotel Monaco, Revivalists will be treated to a jitters-free evening complete with hair and makeup touch-ups by Hannah Conard Beauty Collective, party stations, signature cocktails and light bites, music by DJ Chaz and plenty of dancing. Brides can make DIY floral jewelry with Mt. Lebanon Floral, pop into The Farmers Daughter photo booth, add to Paint Monkey’s “Community Canvas,” and participate in restyling contests judged by Style Social. You’ll rock that frock for a great cause, because all proceeds will be donated to Children’s Hospital. You can even donate your dress on-site to Brides for a Cause and Project Prom. The $100 price tag makes this one wedding that won’t break the bank. The Monaco is even offering discounted rates for attendees wanting to make a night of it.