Festival organizer Ron Quigley and Parkway Theater Co-Owner Aaron Stubna. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival.

Ron Quigley is a Hollywood actor and director, but he’s a Pittsburgh guy at heart.

The Los Angeles resident returns home each year to run the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival, which for 13 years has showcased dozens of under-the-radar features, shorts, documentaries, animations, webisodes and music videos from around the world.

This year’s event, complete with an awards ceremony, will be held Aug. 5-8 at the Parkway Theater in Stowe Township. Tickets start at $13. Patrons can buy a three-day pass for $30.

It’s a labor of love for Quigley, a longtime Pittsburgh firefighter who set out for the West Coast once he retired.

He’s not only the festival organizer; his 23-minute short, “A Stark Reality,” debuts at 7 p.m. on Aug. 7. The heart-wrenching tale based upon a personal tragedy centers on addiction and its effects on a family.

“The cathartic part for me was writing the script,” says Quigley, who starred in and directed the 2019 film.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival.

Quigley found the other festival selections via FilmFreeway, a submission platform that connects low-budget moviemakers from across the globe with festival organizers. The lineup includes projects from the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Denmark, Singapore, France, Sweden, Ireland, Australia and Romania.

Of course, Pittsburgh is represented.

“Steel-Man,” a horror flick about a yinzer superhero battling zombies at a comic book convention, will debut on Aug. 8 at 3:30 p.m. Filming was quite an experience and Mike “Steel-Man” Palmer, who wrote, directed and stars in the blood-and-guts extravaganza, can’t wait for folks to see it.

The festival is a chance to see up-and-coming stars, including  Pittsburgh native Eamonn McElfresh.

Eamonn McElfresh stars in “Jack and the Treehouse.” Photo courtesy of Tara McElfresh.
Eamonn McElfresh stars in “Jack and the Treehouse.” Photo courtesy of Tara McElfresh.

The  13-year-old from Highland Park is the title character in “Jack and the Treehouse,” which was filmed in Western Pennsylvania.

“Jack and the Treehouse” — in which Eamonn’s character tries to stop his dad from selling the family land — has been a hit on the festival circuit. Eamonn was even named Best Child Actor at the New York International Film Awards.

Inspired by the 1992 Disney movie “Newsies,” the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) student started acting at age 7. His advice to other kids with their sights set on stardom?

“You’ll get about 10 percent of the roles you audition for,” he says. “Don’t think you’re not good if you don’t get a role; it just means you aren’t exactly what they’re looking for.”

Aaron and Jackie Stubna, who own the 45-seat Parkway Theater, are happy to host the festival and welcome moviegoers back to the 84-year-old building, which also houses a bar, lounge area and Abjuration Brewing Co.

“It’s our first big film event since Covid,” Aaron Stubna says.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.