Pittsburgh creators showcase new films, local talent

Courtesy of Caroline Collins | U.S. Sen. William Alden Smith (Cotter Smith) chaired the senate hearings following the 1912 sinking and loss of life associated with the RMS Titanic.

Ace Sevigny | Staff Writer

Previously dubbed “the Best Film Festival in Pittsburgh,” the Three Rivers Film Festival comes back swinging with another catalog of independent films.

This year, the festival will gather 22 new and exciting films from directors worldwide. From Nov. 8 to 15, local and virtual audience members can expect to broaden their horizons with diverse ideas and unorthodox themes.

Taking place at Harris Theater, Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Lindsay Theater and Waterworks Cinema, the event will include live Q&A sessions with the films’ cast and crew following the festival’s kickoff party on opening night.

“We love offering these little gems you can’t see anywhere else, and that Pittsburghers can see many of them with us before they go on to be nominated for and win Oscars,” said Katherine Spitz Cohan, executive director of Film Pittsburgh.

The jewel of opening night is the much-anticipated film “Unsinkable,” a drama capturing the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic and the survivor’s guilt that haunted the few victims who lived to see land again, along with the post-accident investigation into the ship’s errors.

“We were just really fascinated by the fact that nobody had explored that section of history yet: the senate inquiry that came after the Titanic sank,” said Cody Hartman, director of “Unsinkable.”

The film, which was shot entirely in Pittsburgh, explores the rush for accountability after one of the most tragic events in history and the political interference that resulted.

“I hope that the audience gets to see a new side of the Titanic story that is a lot more intimate and a lot more focused on [the] survivor retelling of what happened,” Hartman continued.

Other film entries are taking a look at untouched parts of history.

“Kite Zo A (Leave The Bones),” directed by Kaveh Nabatian, is a documentary that explores the birth of Haiti and its culture.

The film is inspired by the 2021 album of the same name, “Leave the Bones,” recorded by Haitian musician Lakou Mizik and Joseph Ray. Nabatian’s film tells a story of the rituals and legacy of the Haiti people.

“We’re so bombarded about the negativity around that area, so I wanted to show the positive parts like music, dance and the ceremonies,” he said.

Over the course of 70 minutes, the audience can expect to learn about local musicians, fishermen, daredevil rollerblades and Voodoo priests, all while listening to the works of Haitian poet, Wood-Jerry Gabriel.

“When people [leave the viewing], they [will have] as much in their hearts as in their minds,” Nabatian said.

“If you’re interested in music, Caribbean culture or dance, come and check it out. It’s a very immersive experience.”

There will be a taste for every kind of film buff at this year’s festival.

With the exception of opening night, students with a valid ID are eligible for reduced ticket costs for the entire night’s program.

For individual film tickets, student tickets and viewing packages can be purchased at filmpittsburgh.org.

For those unable to attend the Three Rivers Film Festival, the Pittsburgh Shorts and Script Competition offers another chance to see inside the Pittsburgh film scene.

The competition runs from Nov. 16 to 19 and will gather 112 short films in addition to hosting a Filmmaker Conference.

The sister festival will include further events for new and upcoming screenwriters as well as live readings from Pittsburgh’s best actors.