Regent Square, Harris, Melwood & Waterworks

November 7 – 22
Various times

100 screenings, 64 films, 16 days, and the region’s longest running film festival. November in Pittsburgh marks the return of the highly anticipated Three Rivers Film Festival (3RFF), which is celebrating its 33rd annual installment from November 7th through November 22nd.

This year’s 3RFF features 100 screenings (that’s 64 films and programs), spanning sneak peeks, underground videos, documentaries, shorts, critically-acclaimed international and independent American cinema, live music, parties and more. Which means, this film festival truly has something for any cinema buff.

Spanning multiple Pittsburgh neighborhoods, main venues for the festival this year are the Harris Theater Downtown, Melwood Screening Room in Oakland, the Regent Square Theater and Waterworks Cinemas in Aspinwall, with additional locations for microcinema programs.

Lights, camera, action!

Kicking off the festival on Friday, November 7th, is an evening of four select feature films at each of the main venues.

Those lucky to have scored tickets to see Foxcatcher at Regent Square Theater will experience the mesmerizing story of Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz and his paranoid-schizophrenic millionaire coach John du Pont, who murdered Mark’s brother Dave, also an Olympic wrestling champion, in 1996. The real-life crime drama by American director Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote), who won the Best Director Award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, explores themes of brotherhood, family, loyalty and morality. Filmed in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania, the gripping biographical thriller stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.

Also screening on opening night are three equally compelling films: The Overnighters (Jesse Moss, USA) at the Harris; Homemakers (Colin Healey, USA) at Melwood and Goodbye to Language–3D (Jean-Luc Godard, France) at Waterworks.

Not to miss is the always festive 3RFF Opening Night Party, which takes place on Friday, November 7th at 9 p.m. at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The opening bash will feature live music by Union Rye, a dance party with DJ Tricky Powers, libations from Great Lakes Brewery, barbeque courtesy of Spak Brothers and empanadas served up by Salud.

Local lens

Presented by Dollar Bank and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the homegrown festival is known for turning its lens to films that have local interest. This year’s roster boasts several features, representing a wide variety of genres, that were made by local filmmakers or that include local actors, including: Cowboy Christmas; Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels; Homemakers; Judy’s Dead; Shipbreakers; and The Umbrella Man.

Less is more

Fans of the vibrant microcinema movement should take note of the festival’s robust roster of indie, underground and experimental films. Experiencing a resurgence across the US, the microcinema scene supports DIY movie making, while also offering alternate ways to view moving images. Screenings often take place in non-traditional spaces with limited seating, and many are run by nonprofits, collectives or artist groups who curate a diverse variety of alternate film and video programs for more intimate audiences.

Underscoring Pittsburgh’s own rich legacy within the microcinema community—from the inception of Pittsburgh Filmmakers, to current screening programs held in art galleries, bars and private homes—3RFF is hosting five distinct microcinema events around the city, with films that explore a range of subcultures and subject matter including basketball, music, skateboarding, video art and avant-garde and experimental filmmaking. Mark your calendars for From Deep (Brett Kashmere) on November 16th at Braddock Library; jORGONEson Presents on November 15th at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination; Mind Cure Records on November 20th at Brillobox; Sight Unseen on November 14th at Melwood Screening Room Scumco & Sons on November 9th at Gooski’s.

Family and foreign flicks

Those searching for family-friendly films will enjoy five titles that introduce younger audiences to leading international motion pictures in a variety genres on the big screen, including Belle & Sebastian (Nicholas Vanier, France); The King and the Mockingbird (Paul Grimault, France); The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt, USA); Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan); and Welcome to the Space Show (Koji Masunari, Japan).

Additional festival highlights include the eight Oscar Entries for Best Foreign Language Film, including titles from Austria, Chile, Finland, Latvia, Israel, Germany, Austria and Portugal, as well as a screening program produced in partnership with The Polish Cultural Council.

That’s a wrap

The festival culminates with closing night festivities on Saturday, November 22nd at Regent Square Theater. The special screening will feature the Boston-based Alloy Orchestra performing live original scores along with two silent films. An afternoon matinee screening of  The Lost World (1925) will bring Harry O. Hoyt’s 1925 hit film to the big screen. Fans of stop-motion special effects will not want to miss this cinematic adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 adventure novel, that’s been dubbed “the granddaddy of all prehistoric monster movies” (it pre-dates King Kong). Recently restored, the film will showcase missing footage that was discovered in Prague.

In the evening, Alloy Orchestra will perform an original score for George Fitzmaurice’s 1926 classic film, The Son of the Sheik. Starring the silent-era film icon Rudolph Valentino, this sequel to the 1921 blockbuster, The Sheik, was released just two weeks after the actor’s death at the young age of 31. A timeless tale of kidnapping, romance, ransom and revenge, the film marks Valentino’s last screen performance, widely considered his finest, in which he stars alongside Vilma Banky. A closing night party will follow the screening.

View a complete festival schedule, including film trailers.

Purchase tickets and passes.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.