Three Rivers Film Festival Attracts Movie Buffs to Pittsburgh

  • By Sara Hess | Monday, November 19th, 2012

Founded in 1982, the Three Rivers Film Festival is an annual event that takes place in ShowClix’s own backyard here in the city of Pittsburgh. The festival has a sixteen-day run at multiple theaters across the city, featuring American independent films, foreign-language films, documentaries, shorts, local works and experimental cinema.

Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers (one of the oldest and largest media arts centers in the U.S.), this year’s Three Rivers Film Festival has been finely crafted, curated and coveted by film buffs, aficionados and casual movie fans alike. Read more about the Festival and be sure you don’t miss out next year!

There are three theaters that host the films for the Festival and are a part of Pittsburgh Filmmakers: The Harris in the downtown Cultural District, Regent Square in the neighborhood of the same name, and the Melwood Screening Room in North Oakland.

These local theaters have survived and stood strong despite mega-movie theater complexes flocking to the area, and for good reason: the charms and storied pasts of these theaters keep visitors both intrigued, nostalgic and cozy in their seats.

And let’s be honest, the popcorn just tastes better there.

As a matter of fact, Pittsburgh has recently been coined the “Hollywood of the East“, attracting more filmmakers and artists each year who choose to use the Steel City as their backdrop and playground.

At ShowClix, we oohed and awed at the array of films that they offered this year. Some of us were excited to see Silver Linings Playbook in the intimate Regent Square Theater before it officially hit megaplexes; or sitting in the dark during the exciting and thrilling French film Holy Motors; and of course we have to tip our hats to Pittsburgh Filmmaker’s alum Chris Prestska and screenings of Pittsburgh Dad & Mercury Men.

We had the chance to ask Carol O’Sullivan, the Media Relations Coordinator for Pittsburgh Filmmakers and 3RFF, some questions about both organizations and get some highlights from the Festival over the years:

Tell us about Pittsburgh Filmmakers. How can people get involved?
Pittsburgh Filmmakers is a non-profit arts organization that was founded more than 40 years ago as a place where artists interested in film and photography could have access to expensive equipment, almost like a co-op. Over the years we began teaching college level courses and having an exhibition component, both of which we still have, year ’round. The Film Festival was started by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 1982. We shared the programming duties with them for a few years, and then we took it over in 1991. (We merged with Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 2006.) The public can either come to see a film, take a class, or become a member of the organization.

What makes local theaters the ideal setting for the Three Rivers Festival?
We show foreign and independent American films in these same three theaters all year. They have a nice, cozy neighborhood feel to them. We hear from patrons all the time about how they like to support these theaters. They are not like the big cavernous cineplex theaters. The Festival crowd is similar. They like gathering in a group, seeing a film together, then talking about the experience afterward, maybe over a beer.

What is one of your favorite memories of the previous Film Festivals since the 1982 opening?
One of my favorite memories was Closing Night 2007. Legendary avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger came to Pittsburgh. He began his career in California in the late 50s. It was thrill for me to invite him to Pittsburgh and to the Film Festival. He was still very sharp, very gracious, and had some great stories to tell.

Why do you think Pittsburgh has become a mecca for the film industry?
Probably a combination of the typography, the architecture, and the amount of qualified folks here who can work on a production.

What is one of the highlights of the 2012 Film Festival for you personally?
There wasn’t just one. The highlights are always when a filmmaker is here in person to introduce his/her film or tell stories about the experience. This year we had Tony Buba, Dave Davis, Kenny Love, Mitja Okorn, and Jenifer McShane discussing their films, as well as one young man who went through the Film Production program here at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Abhay Sofsky moved to New York for graduate school and lives there now. He came on Opening Night to introduce “Beware of Mr. Baker.” He’s the associate producer and editor of that film. It was fun to see him, it was a homecoming of sorts.

Be sure to follow Three Rivers Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter for more information about the 2012 Festival as well as updates and when you can score your tickets for next year!