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Top 10 film experiences of 2005

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Filmmaker, curator and educator

1. Robert Breer at the Carnegie Lecture Hall (part of the Carnegie International artist lecture series). Breer's films are the best examples of painterly techniques extended into film animation.

 

 

2. "Valentin de las Sierras" (1967), by Bruce Baillie. This ethnographic experimental film made in Mexico is one of the most gorgeous films I've ever seen. (Shown at the Jefferson Presents ... film series.)

 

3. More Emergency Cinema for the People at The Andy Warhol Museum. A fantastic program of mostly new European 35 mm experimental films included "Truth and Poetry" (2003), by Peter Kubelka, among work by other greats.

 

4. Brian Dean Richmond solo screening at Jefferson Presents ... Brian is one of Pittsburgh's best filmmakers and this body of films really proved why.

 

5. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), by Mike Nichols. The Sunday-night repertory series at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Regent Square Theater has provided Pittsburgh with some of the most excellent film experiences this year.

 

6. Medium Cool (1969), by Haskell Wexler, at Filmmakers. See comment for No. 5.

 

7. "This Ain't the Garden of Eden" (2005), by John Allen Gibel, Greg Pierce and Joshua Roberts at the Jefferson Presents ... annual local filmmakers screening. Combines the Garden Theater, Freemasonry, the Steelers and Bigfoot sightings.

 

8. Grizzly Man (2005), by Werner Herzog, at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. A tragic and moving portrayal of mental illness.

 

9. Thundercrack! (1975) by Curt McDowell at Jefferson Presents ...

 

10. "Physiognomy" (1973) and "Monster Movie" (1973), by Frederick Bailey. Two astoundingly strange and disorienting short films. (Jefferson Presents ...)

 

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Bill O'Driscoll

City Paper arts & entertainment editor

 

"CNN Concatenated." Omer Fast minced cable newsheads down to the level of a single word or gesture, and reassembled the bits into a damning yet empathetic critique of 24-hour-media culture (Carnegie Museum of Art Mixed Doubles video series).

 

Darwin's Nightmare. Gritty, beautiful, incisive and terrifying, Hubert Sauper's documentary used one instance of man-made ecological disaster in Africa (the Nile perch industry) to highlight the grotesque inequities of the global economy (Three Rivers Film Festival).

 

Fanny and Alexander. Pittsburgh Filmmakers' revival of Bergman's final grand cinematic statement opened a jeweled box of mystery and testified to the power of imagination.

 

Me and You and Everyone We Know. Miranda July's feature-film debut, essentially a deeply probing romantic comedy, was surely the most intriguing American commercial release of the year.

 

More Emergency Cinema for the People. The Warhol again expanded our minds with a rare program of recent experimental cinema in big, bad 35 mm, with work by masters including Peter Kubelka and Peter Tscherkassky, and Martha Colburn's amazing animated painting-on-glass "Cosmetic Emergency."

 

 

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior and Blissfully Yours. An improbable Thai double feature: Ong Bak (at the Harris Theater) introduced Pittsburgh to Tony Jaa, cinema's most exciting new martial-arts star in years; Apichatpong Weerasethakul's undistributed Blissfully Yours (at the Warhol) was a languorous yet vibrant portrait of everyday love and loss, at once gorgeous and disturbing.

 

Ozu at the Melwood. A rare cinephile's treat: a mini-retrospective of some of the Japanese master's singularly styled best, including The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice and Tokyo Story.

 

The Passenger. A restored version of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 masterpiece of alienation and existential confusion (Pittsburgh Filmmakers).

 

Playtime. Jacques Tati completely rethinks cinematic time and space in this astonishing sui generis 1967 masterpiece, revived at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

 

The World. Country folk come to town -- disguised as a literal global-village theme park in Beijing -- in Zhang Ke Jia's affecting, gently funny drama (Three Rivers Film Festival).

 

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Liz Richards

Filmmaker and educator

 

Me and You and Everyone We Know

 

Jefferson Presents ... Unpredictable invitational Local Group Screening.

 

Film Kitchen screening of films by Kris Samuelson and John Haptas.

 

Media Tonic II, particularly Jesse McLean's installation (at Pittsburgh Filmmakers).

 

Jenny Holzer's permanent installation "For Pittsburgh" at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

 

T. Foley's experimental documentary short "Fight and Flight" (Three Rivers Film Festival).

 

Olivia Ciummo's humorous performance as "Miss Maggie," an ESP-communicating puppeteer, interviewed as part of a high-school documentary class (Pittsburgh Filmmakers).

 

UNHABIT group show as part of the March 4 "Unblurred" in Garfield.

 

Nosferatu with live soundtrack by Devil Music Ensemble (Regent Square Theater).

 

Rize

 

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Aisha White

Educator and media activist

 

Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook. This film actually made it difficult for me to sleep. I chose it because there's something quite satisfying about the truth, even when it's disturbing (Sundance Channel).

 

"Funk Hunt." Had the pleasure of previewing this outstanding piece of crafty film work for the first Pittsburgh Hip Hop Film Festival and loved it. It was like watching a Brothers Johnson video on LSD.

 

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme. Another Hip Hop Film Festival bonus, this lyrical treasure is full of invaluable footage of the most prolific spoken-word artists -- well- and lesser-known alike.

 

"Seoul Train." This Frontline episode left me wondering about the future of humankind. Puts a real face to life under Kim Jung-Il, president of North Korea.

 

Edge of America. A feel-good film with a black hero, Native Americans and basketball -- can't ask for much more than that, right? (Showtime)

 

Sex and the City. Any season: Watch a series of episodes and you're off to the mall. Makes you feel good about wanting sex and wanting to look good.

 

The Swenkas. A coming-of-age film about South African men. The most beautiful film I've ever seen (Amnesty International Film Festival).

 

Race: The Power of an Illusion. A staple for understanding how racism and race theory developed in America (special Pittsburgh Race Project screening).

 

"Estilo Hip Hop." Watch this short and see Brazilian, Chilean, and Mexican hip-hop artists use the art form as intended (Hip Hop Film Festival).

 

Letter to the President. Political and eye-opening -- must viewing for the hip-hop generation (Hip Hop Film Festival).

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