Film Notes

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Betty Draper Francis may never be a candidate for mother of the year — not if anyone gets wind of that school field trip — but she has classic taste in movies. The character has called “Singin’ in the Rain” her favorite film and it caps a Mad Men Movies series on Sunday nights in June at the Regent Square Theater, 1035 S. Braddock Ave.

Pittsburgh Filmmakers has been paying attention to the frequent nods to the big screen on the AMC show, and has booked five related movies. All start at 8 p.m. and general admission is $9 or $7 for seniors and students.

June 1: “The Apartment” — “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner has cited this 1960s melancholic comedy, starring Jack Lemmon and directed by Billy Wilder, as an influence for the tone and details of the era on “Mad Men.”

June 8: “The Misfits” — The last film completed by Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe and released in 1961 was referenced in a third season episode involving one of Roger’s old flames. Her family’s company was losing market share because consumers learned its dog food contains horse meat, as exposed in “The Misfits.”

June 15: “Born Free” — After a bad day and ill-fated pitch involving Heinz, Peggy Olson ditches work to go to the movies, an old trick of Don Draper. The story of Elsa the lioness, raised as a pet by two Kenya game wardens, faces life in the wild just as Peggy does.

June 22: “Model Shop” — In a recent episode, Don was back at the movies watching this 1969 film about a man who is floundering and unwilling to make life decisions when he gets involved with a French beauty who works in LA.

June 29: “Singin’ in the Rain” — Betty wishes she could see this, her favorite, after the Kennedy assassination. It’s about the end of an era, which applies in so many ways. 

‘Star Wars’ cameo contest

“Star Wars: Episode VII” director J.J. Abrams is giving fans a shot at a cameo in the film that’s set to be released next year.

Disney, Lucasfilm and Bad Robot have teamed up for a campaign to raise funds for UNICEF. Abrams announced the initiative in a video from the set of the movie in Abu Dhabi.

For every $10 donation at, contributors will become eligible to appear in the film when it shoots in London. The campaign began just after midnight Wednesday and runs until 11:59 p.m. PDT on July 18.

The cast of “Episode VII” was revealed in April. Disney will release the film in December 2015. 

Batman v Superman dawning

Detroit is alive with capes and cowls these days.

Cameras are rolling on “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” in Detroit. Zack Snyder is directing Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Henry Cavill in the role of Clark Kent/Superman

It also stars Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, with Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane returning from “Man of Steel,” Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and Holly Hunter in a role created for the film.

Principal photography will take place on location at Michigan Motion Picture Studios and on location in and around Detroit; Illinois; Africa and the South Pacific. The movie is scheduled to open worldwide May 6, 2016. 

‘Ghosts of Amistad’ preview

Tony Buba and Marcus Rediker will preview their new documentary, “Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels” at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Drive, Munhall.

The hour-long film is based on Marcus Rediker’s 2012 book, “The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom” about the revolt of 1839. It chronicles a trip by historians and a film crew to Sierra Leone in May 2013 to interview elders and to search for the ruins of the slave trading factory, Lomboko, where the Africans were loaded onto ships.

Mr. Buba, who put Braddock on the moviemaking map, has been working on the film with editor Tom Dubensky, Mr. Rediker and associate producer Eileen Weiner. He says this will be the last preview before the team proceeds to the final edit on this movie.

It’s part of the Battle of Homestead Foundation’s series of films and presentations, which opened in April and runs into October. See for a full list of activities.

‘Joking’ in Seattle festival

“You Must Be Joking,” a comedy directed by and starring Pittsburgh native Jake Wilson, is premiering this week at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.

Mr. Wilson grew up in Cranberry and graduated from Seneca Valley High School and was a CLO Mini Star before attending the University of Michigan where he earned a degree in musical theater.

“You Must Be Joking” is about an aimless paralegal (actress and screenwriter Sas Goldberg) who, inspired by her childhood best friend, decides to pick up her long-shelved passion for stand-up comedy.

Mr. Wilson, also an actor, is the creator of a musical Web series, “The Battery’s Down.” He has created and produced television shows for MTV, USA, Bravo, and OWN and has been working in New York and Los Angeles since graduation.

In brief

• Joseph A. Spano III, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, worked as a senior compositor for Digital Domain on “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

He studied visual effects and motion graphics at the Art Institute and graduated in 2009. He has contributed to more then 29 films including “Iron Man 3,” “Wolverine,” “42” and such TV series or movies as “True Blood,” “Mad Men” and “Behind the Candelabra.”

• The historic Warner Cascade Theatre in New Castle has received donations of an antique bellows organ along with a vintage piano. Both will be installed for the grand reopening of the theater at the Riverplex in downtown New Castle in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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