East of Liberty in Unlivable Times is filmmaker Chris Ivey's attempt, he says, to tell "what it's like to be young and black in Pittsburgh." Ivey's East of Liberty documentary series, which he started shooting in 2005, covers issues like gentrification and racial tension in East Liberty. More than 4,000 viewers have seen one installment or another, he says, sparking discussion about what's happening and who benefits. The picture painted in this third full-length installment isn't a happy one. And it's the kids who painted it.
"You hear about Pittsburgh being 'the most livable city,' but it's who you ask and how you live," says Ivey, at 38 a veteran filmmaker. Most of his interview subjects in Unlivable, whether as individuals or in groups, were drawn from students in programs like Communities in Schools, an alternative school for youths seeking their diplomas. "There's a lot of people who think their voices don't matter in this city," says Ivey. His interviews, most conducted in 2010, found these 16- to-18-year-olds "finally being able to do some talking instead of being talked to," says Ivey.
Even if they're not pleased with the dangers and the lack of opportunity they live with, the participants seem grateful for the chance to say so. Among them is Arthur Jetter, 21, of Rankin. When asked today why he agreed to let Ivey interview him, he quips, "I'm just a guy that likes to be on camera, I guess." But Jetter, now attending CCAC, hopes his more serious message comes through, too: "The guns and violence need to stop."
East of Liberty in Unlivable Times 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 18, and Sat., Feb. 19. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $5-10 (free for ages 18 and under). 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misstated the educational offerings of Communities in Schools.