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The March edition of the Film Kitchen screening series has a “mental health” theme

In “The John Show,” Julie Sokolow sympathetically profiles local character John Riegert, the subject of an group art show last year



While the hour-long program, curated by Matthew R. Day, includes four strong shorts by local artists, that theme feels tenuously related to its most elaborately produced film, Chris Preksta’s “Echo Torch.” Preksta, a writer and director best known for web comedy series Pittsburgh Dad and science-fiction web serial The Mercury Men, offers an involving — and dialogueless — 20-minute 2016 thriller about an inventor whose new machine lets him see ghosts. What he’s after isn’t clear until the final few minutes, but “Echo Torch” boasts top-notch production values, including the cinematography, by John Pope, and the acting, with James FitzGerald as the inventor.

Of the other three shorts, Kristen Lauth Shaeffer’s “Mercury in Tuna” is a sly, darkly comic 2010 drama about the effects of our fear-mongering culture; Dana Dancho plays a young woman who goes too far in her efforts to overcome her anxiety. Danny Yourd’s “The Wizard, Oz” profiles Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, a charming California-based neopagan wizard (complete with pointed hat) whose story includes finding the love of his life; cryptozoological adventures with unicorns and mermaids; and an unwitting association with a serial killer. (Whether you consider this film mental-health-related is your call.) And in “The John Show,” Julie Sokolow sympathetically profiles local character John Riegert, whose suicide attempt and lifelong battle with depression were subtexts of the notable 2016 art exhibit at Pittsburgh’s SPACE gallery that consisted of portraits of him by 250 different artists. 8 p.m. Tue., March 14 (7 p.m. reception). Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland. $5.

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