My winter stay-cation this year just happened to coincide with this year’s Three Rivers Film Festival, so for the first time since moving to Pittsburgh I’ve gotten a chance to watch a handful of the festival’s offerings. For those unfamiliar with the festival, it has been running for 32 years now and features about 80 films, ranging from experimental to independent to foreign favorites.
Most of these films will eventually be coming to the Film & Audio Department at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main, so here is a sneak peak of a few films from the festival that will eventually be coming to a library near you.
I was hoping to catch a comedy from the Netherlands called The Deflowering of Eva Van End, but due to technical reasons another film was screened. Luckily, we will be getting that comedy soon as part of our excellent Film Movement collection. The film that I saw instead was called Ilo Ilo, a slice-of-life drama about a family dealing with various stresses during the financial crisis of 1997. We do not own this film yet, but we have plenty of other films that take place in Singapore and surrounding countries.
Broken Circle Breakdown was probably my favorite film of the festival so far, even though it was incredibly difficult to watch at times (I believe I cried on three seperate occasions, so if you decide to check it out be prepared for that). The movie jumps back-and-forth through time to tell the story of the relationship between a sweet & funky Belgium couple, who eventually marry and have a daughter. The couple also play in a bluegrass band together, and the movie is peppered throughout with wonderful country, gospel, and bluegrass standards. It was strange seeing music I so closely associate with the United States being reimagined by a Belgium couple, but all of the songs fit the film perfectly. If you can’t catch this one in the theater but you’re in the mood for a good cry, you can always check out one of these bummer love stories. Or I dare you to listen to this RadioLab podcast without crying by the end.
I was also lucky enough to catch a sold-out showing of Stephen Frears’ latest film, Philomena. The film is based on the real-life story of Philomena Lee, a retired nurse who goes in search of the son she was forced to give up 50 years ago. She teams up with a cynical ex-BBC reporter and together they bicker and travel to America to track down Lee’s son. This is the kind of movie that the cliché “crowd pleaser” was invented for, and even though I tried, I could not resist its charms. It’s got Judy Dench, it’s got Steve Coogan, and it makes fun of the movie Big Momma’s House—in short, it’s going to win some Oscars. We probably won’t have this film in the library until some time next year, so I would recommend instead checking out a film on a similar topic, or another one of Stephen Frears’ great films.
There are also a couple documentaries I hope to catch before the end of the festival–Braddock, America and Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction—in edition to a special screening from the folks at the Orgone Archives.
How about you? What are you watching, or hoping to watch soon?