Archive for August, 2009

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Arts & Citizenship and PA’s state budget

August 31, 2009

arts and citizenship

A new 75-second version of our “Arts and Citizenship” video is online now. Please take a minute (plus 15 seconds) to watch it, then write your representatives.

All state funding for PA Council on the Arts is in real jeopardy.
Budget negotiations are ongoing now, and your action on this issue is needed!

Let your state senator, state representative, and the governor know how important funding for the arts is to you. Phone calls and hand written personal notes get the most attention.

Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Office, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120. Or phone: (717) 787-2500. Or fax: (717) 772-8284.

To find the legislators that represent your district, please click here.

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Talking Film with Andy Horbal

August 21, 2009

This week we’re doing something a little different with our profile. Instead of speaking to an artist or local organizational notable (not that Andy isn’t notable), we talked to a lifelong cinema lover, Andy Horbal. He shared with us a ton of tips and tricks for keeping up-to-date on the film world, deciding what to see, and told us what he was looking forward to. Return of the Jedi Poster

When we asked Andy how he first got into film, he somewhat sheepishly laughed and said two words. “Star Wars.” After we reassured him that this was a completely acceptable answer, he revealed that when he was 15, he saw the original trilogy rereleased in theaters and thought it was the “greatest thing in the world”, seeing it 15 times. Star Wars transitioned into Starship Troopers, and then he and his friends were hooked on seeing movies. After high school, he attended University of Pittsburgh, tried his hand at filmmaking at Filmmakers, and ended up with a degree in Film Studies.

He then shared with us his techniques for figuring out when films are screening in Pittsburgh, “knowing where and when to look.” “Movie showtimes come out on Wednesday or Thursday,” he said “so you can get a jump on what’s coming up.” He also credited his advance knowledge to working at the Stark Media Services Center at Pitt’s Hillman Library. More suggestions? Talk to the people who organize showings, and see what they’re doing next, and check out the Andy Warhol Museum calendar regularly.

However, showtimes and calenders aren’t useful unless you know what you want to see. True to his film studies background, Andy says he reads tons of criticism before seeing movies. Before films hit theaters, he checks out Beyond the Multiplex, Andrew O’Hehir’s indie film blog at Salon and Karina Longworth’s postings at Spoutblog, which provide occasionally caustic but hilarious remarks on films people are currently talking about. For recent DVD releases, he recommends Dave Kehr at the New York Times, who helps put films in historical context. For more academic criticism, he mentioned Cinema Scope, an indie film journal that helps him “think things through.”

redactedWith all that research, one would expect Andy had never seen a bad movie. But when we asked him, out of curiosity, about the worst movies he’s seen recently, two came to mind. Redacted, by director Brian De Palma and Diary of the Dead, the most recent Romero film. Both integrated new media style web-cam clips and mimicked an informal, indie documentary look, and Andy felt that they came off as insincere, “substituting novelty for substance”.

After getting off that depressing subject, we talked about theaters in Pittsburgh that are worth checking out. Andy said that Regent Square really is his favorite place to see movies (and no, we didn’t pay him at all), but also has a soft spot for the Squirrel Hill theaters. He recommended would-be-moviegoers check out South Side Works on Mondays, for their 5 dollar films, and the Maxisaver in West Mifflin, which offers dollar movies, packed with excited high school students. CMU AB Films and the University of Pittsburgh sponsored films also got an honorable mention, as they tend to attract an “enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd”. He also plugged Jefferson Presents, a series of abstract films played at different local venues.

Finally, we asked him the most important question on our list- what movies he was looking forward to. In terms of stuff that will be showing soon, he mentioned Alien, which he’s “been meaning to rewatch for a while”, Tulpan and Made in the USA (Showtimes). More long term, he gave a shout out to Jacques Audiard’s new film festival favorite, A Prophet and Alain Resnais’s Wild Grass. On the American/Hollywood side, he mentioned the new Sherlock Holmes, which he said “has got to be terrible, but I love Robert Downey Jr and the momentum of Guy Richie movies.” Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, as something he’ll see because “it will probably be a reflection on cinema.”

As our interview was coming to a close, we probed about one of his other interests expressed on his blog- food. He recommended we check out culinary scientist Harold McGee’s yogurt recipe, as an awesome kitchen project that cuts down food expenses and produces amazing greek style yogurt.

Want to know more about Andy? Follow him on twitter @andyhorbal or check out his blog here.

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New videos by Heinz Endowments interns

August 17, 2009

These videos on “Greening Up Pittsburgh” were made by students in the Heinz Endowments’s 2009 Summer Youth Philanthropy Program, with guidance from Susan Howard, director of Filmmakers at the Center.

Watch the videos online at pghfilmmakers.org.

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Arts Profile: Andrew Batista

August 12, 2009

This week’s artist profile features former Pittsburgh Filmmakers student Andrew Batista.

Here at filmmakers we are lucky enough to help students along on their path to whatever they have ambitions to do, and we also get to keep an eye on those who stand out. Andrew Batista is a noteworthy up and coming filmmaker/ photographer, who is worth getting to know a little better. His film “Piano Story” recently showed at the 2009 annual Art and Technology exhibition opening, receiving compliment after compliment. I know I found it impossible to walk away from the film, even in the midst of a party.
He describes how his relationship with the movies began when he was a little boy living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He would browse through the films the U.S Embassy had to rent, then watching each over and over…enjoying them as a connection to the U.S. The importance of film in his life really began a little later on though, when he was in High school in Pittsburgh and bought his own video camera. He frequently found himself completely immersed in his projects, so he enrolled at Pittsburgh Filmmakers to continue learning.
When asked to mention someone who really has influenced his work, he points to esteemed Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez who wrote the book “Rebel without a Crew”. After reading that book, a career in film seemed more possible and attainable.
His latest big project “Piano Story” is a love story, which Andrew had never done before. He describes his creative process as starting with the image of a man at his piano, and then crafting a love story around that. He pictured the whole thing in a very classic style, taking place in the 1950s, which he feels is a good era to lend to a certain innocence the story has. He also feels that setting a film in a different time gives the audience a kind of permission to escape into the story, and out of the “real world”.

He also was lucky enough to work with New Perspective Productions, doing their Filmmaker in Residence program, which provided him with space and equipment that was invaluable to producing the film.
Right now Andrew is writing a lot, thinking up ideas for his next project which could be anything from a Western to a Horror film. In the meantime he’s been keeping busy with photography and a collaborative video project with fellow PGH Filmmaker graduate, Matt Robison. For fun, they write, shoot, and release weekly 1-minute shorts. You can see them at http://www.Misterab.com
Also you can find him on Vimeo and get a little sample of his work, http://vimeo.com/user1980533.
and his film “Piano Story” has its own website that will be up soon, thats http://www.PianoStoryMovie.com.
Keep an eye out for his next step, I know we will be.

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Film Kitchen will return in Sept

August 5, 2009

The annual August hiatus is upon us. Let us reflect, then, on the previous year of Film Kitchen. With great help from Pgh City Paper, WYEP-FM, Digital Video Development, and DH Creative this year Film Kitchen reached a milestone.

In the over-10 years since Film Kitchen began, over $25000 has been given in honoraria to exhibiting regional film and video artists!

The annual contest was on the theme “Old Wives Tales and Urban Myths,” and was held this year on June 9th at the Harris Theater as part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, where a juried selection of entries were shown.

The Winners for the 2009 Film Kitchen Annual Contest were:
1st Place – The Dream by Eli Kurlfink
2nd Place – Back Mask by Justin Crimone
3rd Place – Tootsie Pop Who? by Jen Bennett
Audience Choice – Kissy Kiss Cole – C. Leonardo

Here are the evening’s judges and winners and hosts. See you in September!