Film Notes: Movie scholar to discuss student film opportunities

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Tom Schatz, film scholar turned executive director of the University of Texas Film Institute, is coming to Pittsburgh next week and will give a free talk Monday about a program that pairs students with professional filmmakers.

Schatz, author of "Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era" and "Hollywood Genres," is now part of the program that gives students hands-on experience on the set of professional, feature-length movies.

Established in 2003, the UTFI is a new model of film education. In partnership with Burnt Orange Productions, it provides internships, apprenticeships, guest lectures, workshops and semester-long classes in specific filmmaking topics, so students can jump into the business after graduating.

Interns and apprentices worked on "Elvis & Anabelle," a feature about the unusual relationship between a young mortician and small-town beauty queen. Starring Max Minghella, Blake Lively, Joe Mantegna, Mary Steenburgen and Keith Carradine, "Elvis & Anabelle" made its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival last month.

Schatz's talk, at noon Monday in Room 501 of the Cathedral of Learning, comes courtesy of the Pitt Film Studies Program, Steeltown Entertainment Project (www.steeltown.org) and Pitt in Hollywood. It is free and open to the public.

(Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette movie editor)

Subtitled Sundays

Pittsburgh Filmmakers last week launched a Sunday Night Series at the Regent Square Theater called "Janus Films: The 50th Anniversary of Art House Cinema."

The end of World War II didn't just bring sprawling suburbs, baby boomers and bursting-at-the-seams classrooms. It brought growth in "art houses," specialized movie theaters showcasing films from outside the United States. Once a mere dozen in 1945, their number topped 550 by 1960.

Filmmakers celebrates some of the greatest foreign films of the 1950s with its Sunday series, which opened with "The Cranes Are Flying." It continues this weekend with Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," in which Max von Sydow portrays a knight who returns home from the Crusades and plays a game of chess with Death.

On April 15, the selection will be Federico Fellini's "La Strada," winner of the 1956 Oscar for best foreign language film. It stars Giulietta Masina as a simple-minded peasant who is sold to a cruel circus strongman portrayed by Anthony Quinn.

"The 400 Blows," Francois Truffaut's famous film about a troubled teenager, will screen April 22. This autobiographical feature landed him the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959.

The series will close with "Ikiru" ("To Live"), Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film about a bureaucrat who realizes he is dying of cancer and that he has never accomplished anything in his life.

Movies, all subtitled, start at 7:30 p.m. at the Regent Square Theater. Admission: $7.

(Vancheri)

Armseat travelers

"Paris, je t'aime"
("Paris, I Love You") will be screened at 7 p.m. Monday in the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Admission is free but space is limited.

Described as being about "the plurality of cinema in one mythic location," it brings together 20 directors' five-minute impressions of Paris. Bilingual French/English, subtitles as necessary. Rated R.

The screening is co-sponsored by Silver Eye Center for Photography and Pitt's Film Studies Program. For information, call 412-431-1810.

(Mary Thomas, Post-Gazette art critic)

Iraq documentary screening

Only 22 and a junior at Point Park University, Shawn Bronson already has made a documentary, portions of which have aired on the Discovery and Military channels.

Shawn Bronson's film about Iraq will be screened Tuesday in Oakland.
Click photo for larger image.

But he has more life experience than the average college student. Bronson served a year in Iraq as a gunner with the Pennsylvania National Guard and used his laptop to assemble the 100-minute "Team Predator" from footage he and fellow soldiers shot. His documentary first screened in Indiana, Pa., and now is coming to the Film Kitchen series.

It will show at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Melwood Screening Room at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Oakland headquarters, 477 Melwood Ave. A reception will start at 7 p.m., and Bronson will later take questions from the audience. Admission is $4.

The PG's John Hayes spoke to Bronson for a story about troops armed with cameras bringing home battlefield images. It appeared Aug. 11 and you can find it at post-gazette.com.

(Vancheri)

RMU hosts documentaries

Robert Morris University will kick off an April series of documentaries with two works examining the impact of World War II on Americans.

"Prisoners Among Us: Italian American Identity and World War II" chronicles the assimilation of Italians into American culture, from their arrival in the early 19th century through the war. Actor Tony Lo Bianco narrates, and Tom Brokaw and Mary Ann Esposito, host of "Ciao Italia," provide commentary.

Director-producer Michael Angelo DiLauro, director of RMU's Academic Media Center, uses interviews, historical analysis, archival photos and footage along with music and literature to show how early Italian-Americans survived adversity and continue to thrive.

It will be shown Wednesday at 6 p.m. in RMU's Massey Theater, with a 5:30 p.m. reception. It's free and open to the public.

The next night, RMU will present "The Heroes of Post 639," made by RMU junior Justin Seaman of Claysville.

He documents the stories of his grandfather and eight other World War II veterans from his hometown. Fellow McGuffey High School graduates Tanya Allum and Rudy Bergles co-directed the project, which includes footage of veterans visiting the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.

It will screen at 6 p.m. Thursday in Massey Theater, with a 5:30 p.m. reception. It is free and open to the public. The program will include the presentation of the colors, along with a display of war memorabilia and performance of the song "Fallen Heroes" by Joe Patrick and Alli Gillis.

See www.rmu.edu for details on these programs and other April screenings.

(Vancheri)

Kal Penn turns teacher

Kal Penn, the actor most famous for co-starring in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" but earning new respect for his turn in "The Namesake," will be a guest instructor at University of Pennsylvania next year.

He will teach two undergraduate courses in spring semester 2008 tentatively called "Images of Asian Americans in the Media" and "Contemporary American Teen Films."

Penn, a New Jersey native whose birth name is Kalpen Modi, appeared on TV's "24" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." In addition to "Harold & Kumar" and "Namesake," his credits include "Epic Movie," "Van Wilder" and "Van Wilder: The Return of Taj."

(Vancheri)



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