Three Rivers Film Festival exhibits broad swath of cinema

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Three Rivers Film Festival exhibits broad swath of cinema

By Andrew Fishman / Staff Writer

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Every filmmaker must start somewhere, and for many, film festivals are the best way to get their start.

For filmmakers in the western Pennsylvania area, the Three Rivers Film Festival — hosted here in Pittsburgh — has been the largest and generally most successful outlet for independent films. The 32nd annual running of the Three Rivers Film Festival begins this Friday, Nov. 8, and runs through Nov. 23. The festival will open with four film screenings at four different theaters that will be used throughout the festival.

“There are so many different types of films being shown this year,” said Gern Roberts, the senior graphic designer and public relations representative of Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the festival’s largest sponsor. “International films, American films, independent films — it’s really very exciting.”

Pittsburgh Filmmakers has sponsored the Three Rivers Film Festival for every year that it’s been running. Primarily a school that teaches filmmaking, Pittsburgh Filmmakers strives to educate the public about different types of film media.

“We allow people to have access to digital, film and photography media,” said Roberts. “As far as theaters go, we want to keep quality cinema available to the public. We try and highlight local filmmakers when we can. The film festival is a good sampling of what we do throughout the year.”

One local filmmaker featured in the festival this year is Steve Hoover, the director of the documentary “Blood Brother.” Hoover’s first film highlights his friend Rocky Braat’s experience moving to India to work with a group of HIV-positive orphans. According to Hoover, the film chronicles Rocky’s journey of transitioning to Indian life, as well as the encounters — both humorous and tragic — that occurred along the way.

“The kids are HIV-positive, so [Braat] has been around a lot of serious illnesses, been a part of deaths, he’s even personally helped bury some of the kids. He often helps the children through family trauma and things like that,” said Hoover, a Pittsburgh native who currently works for local production company Animal. “I would read [emails] about the things he was doing and I had no connection with it. When your close friend does something that drastic, you want to see what he’s doing firsthand and understand what it is that inspired him to move there.”

Blood Brother Trailer from Blood Brother on Vimeo.

“Blood Brother” is just one of more than 100 films being shown over the next few weeks at one of four theaters showing films for the festival — three of which are Pittsburgh Filmmakers theaters. Locations and schedules can be found on the festival’s website, “Blood Brother” will be shown on Nov. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the Regent Square Theater. Hoover will be present to conduct a Q-and-A session after the screening.

“This whole year, I’ve been going to different festivals all over the world, and it made me think a lot about the Three Rivers Film Festival,” said Hoover. “Being able to participate in something like that in my home town — it’s an honor. And it’s exciting to share the film with Pittsburgh audiences.”

The fourth theater showing the festival’s films this year is Waterworks Cinemas, a new sponsor of the Three Rivers Film Festival.

“Waterworks Cinemas has always been interested in participating in community events,” said Jessica Levine, head manager of the theater. “We have brought other film festivals into our theater, and when the opportunity came to partner with the Three Rivers, it was just an automatic ‘yes.’”

Though highlighted by independent films, the festival also offers films featuring well-known actors, including “Prince Avalanche,” directed by David Gordon Green and featuring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch; “Drinking Buddies,” directed by Joe Swanberg and featuring Anna Kendrick and Olivia Wilde, and (one of the opening night films) “A Perfect Man,” directed by Kees Van Oostrum and starring Liev Schreiber. By featuring a selection of films that vary widely both in style and form, the festival strives to attract an equally eclectic audience.

“It’s a personal favorite of my own,” said Levine. “The Three Rivers Film Festival and Waterworks Cinema have been a part of the community for a couple decades now, so it’s cool to be a part of something that’s so old and so uniquely Pittsburgh.”

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