News Column

Film Notes: Director to talk at 'Gasland' screening

June 14, 2013


June 14--Writer-director Josh Fox will appear at a free screening of "Gasland Part II" Thursday at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland. Doors at the landmark, 4141 Fifth Ave., will open at 6 p.m., movie starts at 7 and Mr. Fox will field questions after.

His 2010 film "Gasland," nominated for an Oscar for best documentary, exposed the effects of America's race to drill gas wells.

This time, he and the producers (including Pittsburgh native Trish Adlesic) examine the long-term impact of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, including claims of poisonous water, earthquakes and neurological damage.

The documentary, which played during the Tribeca Film Festival in April, will premiere on HBO at 9 p.m. July 8.

Indie fest in McKees Rocks

The second Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival will open tonight and run through Sunday at a new venue, the Father Ryan Arts Center, 420 Chartiers Ave. in McKees Rocks. The event was held last year at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont.

Organizers have booked a day of shorts, music videos, animation, experimental and new media and two days of feature films, both documentary and narrative.

They promise better odds for submission acceptance and the naming of seven awards for feature, animation, short, new media, webisode, music video and an audience choice winner.

It should not be confused with the Three Rivers Film Festival, which will celebrate its 32nd year in November and is the oldest such event in the region. However, it boasts some movies with Pittsburgh connections.

Among them is "Grounded" by Sean Crowell, a Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker and key grip ("The Hangover" trilogy, TV's "Scrubs") who grew up in Dormont and fondly remembers seeing movies at the now-gone South Hills Theater.

"Grounded" is the story of two Pleasant Hills brothers -- one worked the ground crew, the other was a pilot -- who were marijuana smugglers in the 1970s and '80s. Their adventures took them from farmers' fields in rural Florida and Alabama to the dirt runways of Colombia and back again.

It recently had its world premiere at the Dances With Film festival at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. For more information on the movie, see

The Pittsburgh festival opens at 6 p.m. today with "Broadway's Finest," an 88-minute movie by Stephen Marro, two shorts and "Grounded" at 7:30 p.m.

Director John C. Lyons' "There Are No Goodbyes" is about a man (Matthew King) born and raised in a quiet industrial city and still living in his deceased parents' house.

He is contacted by a mysterious man who gives him a series of odd tasks to complete but begins to question the stranger and his motivation. He meets and falls for a young photographer who introduces new energy and love to his life, but the man returns with one more task.

Shot in Pittsburgh and Erie, as well as Poland, the Czech Republic and Ireland, it is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. Sunday with a question-and-answer session to follow. See for details.

Pittsburgh-based filmmakers are responsible for "The Gate Agent," a 17-minute short by director Damiano Fusca ("Deference") and writer Mike Smith.

It stars Churchill native and Point Park University graduate Amadeo Fusca, who won the "So You Think You Can Roast" national online talent contest, allowing him to help roast Jack Black at the Friars Club in New York. "Gate Agent" is among shorts screening at 2:55 p.m. Saturday.

Festival tickets are $10 for one day, $15 for two or $20 for the entire weekend. See for ticket link, full schedule, other details.

In brief

--Josh Widdowson, a morning host on WPXZ-FM and news anchor for WDAD-AM, will introduce weekend matinees at the Jimmy Stewart Museum Theater ( in Indiana. Matinees and discussions are included with admission at the museum honoring the Indiana native who died July 2, 1997.

--"Jobs," starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, will be released Aug. 16. It chronicles how Jobs rose from college dropout to creative genius and also features Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Matthew Modine.

--Ticket packages for the Toronto International Film Festival will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. July 10. TIFF members will get first crack June 25 and Visa card holders can order packages on July 3.

The film schedule will go online Aug. 20 at The event has 15 different programs, including gala presentations with starry red-carpet premieres, Midnight Madness showcasing action, horror, shock and fantasy, and onstage conversations with leaders in the film industry and beyond in what's called Mavericks.

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:


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