Famous films get low-budget treatment at Row House Cinema’s Sweded Film Festival, but … ‘is it fun?’ | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Famous films get low-budget treatment at Row House Cinema’s Sweded Film Festival, but … ‘is it fun?’

"It's kind of what independent local movie theaters are made for.”

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Jack Black wants you to be kind and rewind. - A STILL FROM THE PROMO BLACK CREATED FOR ROW HOUSE CINEMA
  • A still from the promo Black created for Row House Cinema
  • Jack Black wants you to be kind and rewind.

Most people will never see their movie played in an actual movie theater, but the Sweded Film Festival at Row House Cinema offers anyone with a camera and a sense of humor that chance. 

The concept of a sweded film — purposely short and low-budget recreations of popular movies — comes from the 2008 Michel Gondry comedy, Be Kind Rewind. In that movie, two friends accidentally erase all the VHS tapes in the video store where they work and then recreate bootleg versions of popular movies as replacements. 

Their explanation? The replacement films are Swedish versions, hence “sweded.”

“This idea kind of took off on its own and people started making their own sweded films,” explains Molly Ebert, director of events and membership at Row House. “The more low-budget, the better. It's just a good way for people to be creative.” 

Row House first embraced the idea of sweded films by shooting staff-made bootleg trailers for movies such as Fight Club and The Godfather. Last year, its festival took place on a single day. Due to popularity, it has been expanded to a full week (June 15-21) that also coincides with this theater’s fourth anniversary.

Registration occurred from April 16-May 15. Requirement for submissions included films being three to five minutes in length with relatively family-friendly context and no repeats. There will be voting throughout the week and a cash prize for the winning film. 

This festival gives people an easy and accessible way to play with filmmaking without having to be a professional filmmaker. 

“People just make something for the heck of it,” says Ebert. “And it’s pretty rare you get to see something you made on movie screens and have an audience.”  

This year, the film festival also received a little help from Jack Black, a star of Be Kind, Rewind. Black sent a short video to the theater, encouraging people to come out for the festival, and of course, to be kind and rewind. 

“It's been the craziest week because we can’t believe that happened,” says Ebert. “Fifteen minutes after him and his manager said he'd give us a video, we got a video. We just can't believe it.”

Ebert says “Is it fun?” is the guiding principle for Row House when coming up with new ideas; a sweded film fest was the perfect fit.  

“It's local and it's kind of what independent local movie theaters are made for,” she says.

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