- Lost boy: Tess Allard's "Red Radio."
"It's an end-of-the-world theme, isn't it? But it's kind of upbeat," muses Film Kitchen curator Matthew Day about the May 12 installment of the monthly series.
Indeed, the theme holds strongly for at least two of the films in the evening's showcase of recent short works by local artists.
"Revelations," by Justin Douglas, is a comic vignette depicting the morning after the night before the apocalypse: The inevitable bacchanal gives way to a hangover, with a twist. Douglas, a student at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, might offer a pretty mild incarnation of debauchery, but he does distinctively evoke a sort of groggy, dawn-lit sense of confused trepidation.
Odder, and still more atmospheric, is Tess Allard's "Red Radio," in which a young man situated on a desolate landscape listens to a portable radio broadcasting a stream of political propaganda to whoever's left. While the University of Pittsburgh graduate's short reads partly like a cautionary tale about Communism (ummm ... OK), it's a well-crafted mood piece, with a touch of dissonance.
Death also stalks veteran filmmaker John Kirch's contribution, but in a more lighthearted nostalgic way. "Doo Dah Days" opens to the strains of native son Stephen Foster's "Camptown Races." But Kirch's 10-minute piece, created for the Lawrenceville Historical Society, is finally less about Foster (and the annual day of events honoring his musical legacy) than it is a celebration of Allegheny Cemetery, the expansive swath of green where Foster and so many other Pittsburghers are buried. Kirch's documentation of a guided (and costumed) tour of the cemetery turns up: baseball great Josh Gibson; Andrew Carnegie's parents; at least four Confederate soldiers; and Union Gen. Alexander Hays, who was a favorite of Ulysses S. Grant and whose tomb features actual half-buried cannons.
Finally, there are three shorts by Nicole Pianella, a Point Park grad who edits video for a local production house. "Quiet! You Piece of Meat" is a montage of still images of a young woman interspersed with scenes of cattle and a group of boxer-shorted young men (military inductees?) with T-bone steaks for heads, all coupled with a spoken-word piece. By contrast, "go girl ... Go!" is a lively shot of pop art, built around animated still photos of the dancing torso of a woman in a sports-bra.
Pianella's "Sextions," meanwhile, combines doctored footage from vintage aerobics videos (by a leotarded Jane Fonda and others) with clubby music and images of sexy young people. There's commentary on exploitation here similar to, if more subtle than,the one in "Quiet!" That could be what Day, himself a filmmaker (and Pittsburgh Filmmakers staffer), is thinking about when he says of Pianella's contribution to the May 12 program, "It has a vibe that fits in with the other ones."
Film Kitchen 8 p.m. Tue., May 12 (7 p.m. reception). Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., N. Oakland. 412-681-9500 or www.filmkitchenpgh.org