Roll Out The Reel For Pittsburgh's Home Movie Day

Nov 4, 2015
popturf / flickr

Long before everyone had video capability on their smartphones there was the home movie camera. Home Movie Day is a worldwide celebration of amateur films and filmmaking. Joining us with a preview of Pittsburgh’s Home Movie Day is Emily Davis, senior research associate for the time –based media project at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Evan Agostini / AP Photo

The movie “Truth” opens this weekend. It tells the story of a now-infamous report by Dan Rather, then with CBS, that explored and questioned the military record of former President George W. Bush and his service in the Texas National Guard that kept him from being sent to Vietnam. The movie stars Robert Redford as Rather and Cate Blanchett as “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes. The film is based on Mapes’ bestseller “Truth and Duty: The Press, The President And The Privilege Of Power.”

Dan Rather discussed the incident at the heart of “Truth” as well as the state of journalism in an archived interview with Essential Pittsburgh host Paul Guggenheimer on March 19, 2014.

    First off, Rachel has never seen the Big Lebowski. Let’s all just take a moment and let that sink in.

Also, Josh had a birthday recently. Happy Birthday! Let’s party with some great events brought to you by Social Club.

Carnegie Museum of Art is bringing you Hops and Hopper event celebrating the great American artist Edward Hopper! Lots of different breweries will be on tap, including Grist House Brewing, Hitchhiker Brewing and more! Come on down Saturday night!

Beth Navarro

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of "The Great Gatsby" – the height of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary fame. But a new novel suggests that some of Fitzgerald’s best work came much later, at a time of loss and personal struggle.

Mark Schultz /

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

In 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz was shot to death by John du Pont on the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. What followed was sensational media coverage and a murder trial. Du Pont was found guilty and died in prison. A movie about these events, called “Foxcatcher,” was recently released in theaters. It’s based on a new book by Schultz’s brother and fellow gold medalist Mark Schultz.

We spoke with Mark Schultz in November about the true story behind his brother’s murder. Schultz explained to us that although he and his brother were Olympic medalists, they were still struggling to make ends meet, and that’s how they first got connected with millionaire philanthropist John Du Pont.

“He was the opposite of a coach; he was a bad example. We coached him! He was the biggest loser on earth, but he just inherited all of this money, and he was the only guy in the country willing to pay us to just compete. And with Title IV wiping out all the men’s wrestling programs, he was the only game in town.”

Mark Schultz /

Olympic gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz joins us to discuss his book "Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold."

In it, he tells the story of the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz, at the hands of John E. du Pont at the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania.

A movie based on the events, also titled "Foxcatcher" has been released this month. He joins us today to talk about his career in wrestling, his thoughts about the film and his reaction to his brother's murder.

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors / Facebook

The second annual ReelAbilities Film Festival is taking place in Pittsburgh, focusing on movies telling the stories of people with disabilities.

We'll talk with director Sam Fleischner and Jesus Sanchez-Velez who stars in the film "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors." The movie won a Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and has played at film festivals around the world.

What's Hot in the Box Office This Fall

Oct 23, 2014
Janne Moren / Flickr

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Film Editor Barbara Vancheri discusses the movies "Ouija," "Gone Girl," "The Judge," "Fury," "St. Vincent," and "Birdman." We also talk about Pittsburgh Native, Michael Keaton and how "Birdman" could be a life changing film for his career.

The horror movie “Ouija,” Vancheri says the film might make you even more afraid to use the classic board game referenced in the title. “Gone Girl,” which has been a major success at the cineplex, is full of twists and surprises and has a strong cast. “Fury” is an intense, historical film that takes place at the end of WWII. Also, lookout for "St.Vincent" that is coming out tomorrow the film “Birdman” that Vancheri would describe as brilliant, coming out next week.

Thoughts from Vancheri:

“If you're an adult and you’ve seen something like 'The Exorcist' I don’t think it will make you quake or shake but it seemed to entertain the teens and tweens who were in the audience.” - Vancheri on the movie “Ouija”

"We watched a screening a couple weeks ago and I think two of us used the same word, and that was 'brilliant'."- Vancheri on the movie 'Birdman.'"

Watch the official "Birdman" trailer 

Pittsburgh’s film credits have been steadily growing over the last few years, and the Steel City is the location of a new series called “The Chair,” which premieres on the cable channel Starz this weekend.

It’s about the making of two films – each from the same screen play, but adapted by different directors.

Row House Cinema / Facebook

For generations theaters have been an important part of thriving cities and towns across the country. In recent years more people are seeing how theaters can be an economic engine of development.

The Conclave Theater tour is held every year in a different city. This year Pittsburgh hosts the tour, showcasing the region's contributions to theatrical architecture.

The Summer Movie Season, What to go See and What to Stream

May 30, 2014
Cinema in the Park / Citiparks

The official start of summer might still be a few weeks away, but the summer movie season is already under way. In late May and early June, major studios bring their biggest movies of the year to theaters and drive-ins across the nation, hoping for a blockbuster. 

Pittsburgh City Paper movie critic Al Hoff dropped by to talk about the must-see movies, and which movies are better left to be watched on Netflix. 

The biggest film of the summer, at least thus far, is Godzilla. Hoff said she enjoyed the monster but thought the characters could use more work.

“I think they rounded up some really great actors and I think they didn’t give them anything to do other than stand around and react to explosions and buildings falling. Number one, there was three great actresses in that film that had absolutely nothing to do. Two of them you weren’t even sure what their role was, and then the third was just the imperiled mom, which is a waste of anyone that can act. It was a little baffling to me but obviously the focus of the film is Godzilla and the other monsters,” said Hoff.

Pittsburgh City Paper Writer Al Hoff Weighs in on the Oscar Buzz

Feb 21, 2014

The Academy Awards are right around the corner, Sunday March 2nd to be exact. There’s plenty of speculation about who’s likely to win, along with conversation about who's worthy of the awards.

Al Hoff is our movie contributor and a film critic for the Pittsburgh City Paper. She's parsed through the top Oscar contenders and says based on critic responses, the two favorites in many categories are American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave.

The Chair: One Movie Script, One City, Two Directors

Feb 18, 2014
Brook Ward / flickr

One feature film, two directors, a pool of equal resources and the city of Pittsburgh.

This is the premise of a new documentary series titled The Chair starting production this month.

Chris Moore, creator of Project Greenlight and producer of movies such as Good Will Hunting and Promised Land, developed the idea for the series.

Moore has reached out to directors Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci to see what direction a single production can take under different directors

Wikimedia Commons

Finding a good movie theater is like falling in love.

The match between theater and audience-member is an important one; lifelong bonds can be formed if the connection resonates, and viewing a movie in the right venue can mean the difference between a relaxing day off and a bitter drive home.

Each person has their own needs for a theater, be them movie selection, general size or atmosphere. If you’re new in town, how could you be expected to choose an afternoon sanctuary when you can barely find your way around the city?

Pacific Rim / Facebook

A diverse array of films are hitting screens around town. One film of note for the average Pittsburgher is A New York Heartbeat. Pittsburgh City Paper film critic, Al Hoff says movie makers attempted to make Pittsburgh look like Brooklyn in the 1950s. When Hoff asked the film creator why the film was shot in Pittsburgh, she was told it's because of the city’s “gritty alleys, rusty bridges and lack of contemporary graffiti.” Hoff describes the film as a small-scale movie, with a low budget feel, but not bad if you’re looking for an off-beat love story and views of Pittsburgh.

Grab the blankets, picnic baskets and lawn chairs because the free outdoor music and movie season is back in Pittsburgh.

This weekend marks the beginning of both the 2013 Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Citiparks summer music and movies series.

Lights, Camera But Where's the Action?

May 9, 2013
31 Street Studios / Facebook

In recent years the number of movies shot in Pittsburgh has some people calling us "Hollywood East."  However, it appears the city and state have become victims of their own success.

Filmmakers have gravitated to Pittsburgh over the years for a number of reasons, including affordability. But Pennsylvania's current tax credit allotment is capped at $60 million a year.  That money dries up quickly in the film industry. So how can Pennsylvania keep up with states like Louisiana, and Georgia, which have no tax credit limit? And what more can be done to lure film and television production to the state?


Chris Breakwell CEO of 31st Street Studios.