7. Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival: March 23—April 9
Focusing its lens on personal, cultural and global identity, CMU’s International Film Festival is using cinema to examine highly potent and topical issues. Curated around the theme of “Faces of Identity,” the 11th annual festival boasts up to 18 features, documentaries and shorts—including many making their Pittsburgh debut. Spanning 18 days and countries throughout the world—from Peru to Poland—films will spark engaging dialogues about issues such as race, sexuality, gender, and ethnicity. Screenings are augmented by Q&A sessions, and receptions showcasing locally-produced ethnic cuisine. The world’s only international film festival run entirely by students from numerous universities, the event also seeks to celebrate Pittsburgh’s own ethnic heritage and dynamic culture. Don’t miss opening night on March 23 for the Pittsburgh premiere of With I, Daniel Blake directed by renowned English director Ken Loach—who is acclaimed for creating films such as Riff-Raff that tackle pressing social issues. Additional highlights include an epic biography about the pioneering, Nobel Prize–winning scientist Marie Curie, a powerful portrait of a young Chinese woman emigrating to Argentina, and a story about political and environmental turmoil in rural Peru. Buy tickets.
8. Farm to Table Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: March 24 & 25
It may seem like science fiction to see daffodils, insects and birds before March, but one thing is certain: spring is on the mind of Pittsburghers. The best place to kick off a season of gardening, CSAs and dining al fresco, find out where your food originates, and learn tips for a healthier lifestyle is at the 11th annual Farm to Table Conference. Cuisine and culture will converge around this year’s theme of “Growing Roots for Healthy Communities.” Inspired by the idea that food is “the great connector,” the conference will focus on cultural origins, diverse preparations and local ingredients. Attendees have a dizzying array of offerings to choose from, including cooking demos, gardening classes, wellness seminars, exhibits, tastings, lectures, and the popular “Friday Night Food Tasting” kickoff. New this year is the “Farm to Flask Mixology” event, where foodies will sample wine, beer, and spirits made in Western Pa. Attendees will learn about how cooking can build community, discover the health and economic benefits of eating local, and will have plenty of time for mingling with chefs, farmers, food purveyors, businesses owners, nutritionists, and advocacy groups. Register now.
9. Pittsburgh Humanities Festival in the Cultural District: March 24—26
Where can you hear thought-provoking talks by pioneering Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, Black Panther activist and law professor Kathleen Cleaver, former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia—and many others—all within three days? Get enlightened at the second iteration of the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival. Setting up shop throughout the Cultural District, the event is convening leading scholars, artists, and intellectual innovators for a shared exploration of what it means to be human. A mix of engaging formats is offered—featured talks, readings, performances, and 24 intimate conversations and interviews. Charismatic presenters will examine humanity via the framework of art, literature, music, science, and politics, with session topics exploring everything from the history of birth control pill and queer performance art, to Bauhaus design and foreign affairs. Not to miss is an evening with writers Seena Vali and Matt Spina from the inimitable, award-winning satirical news publication, The Onion. New components include an All Access Pass, a lounge at Crazy Mocha coffeehouse, a partnership with White Whale Bookstore, and a YouTube-based “Have-A-Chat for Humanity” video contest that invited the public to suggest discussion topics. Buy tickets.
10. Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet & Creative Arts Festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: March 24—26
Move over Sixburgh, it’s time for Knittsburgh. The city’s fiber arts scene was thrust into the international spotlight in 2014 when some 1,847 area makers covered the Andy Warhol Bridge with the country’s largest yarn bomb project ever. From latch hook rugs and macramé to string art installations, the contemporary fiber arts genre is back with renewed gusto, creativity and innovation. This festival is your chance to dive in—whether you’re still wondering what “knit one, purl two” means or you’re eager to master new techniques. Choose from 90 classes and workshops, shop for hard-to-find fibers, and experiment with sewing, cutting and felting machines. Pop into the Creative Open Studio to sew a pillowcase for UPMC Cancer Center patients, watch instructional and DIY videos, and meet famed fiber artisan StevenBe—who’s been dubbed the “Rod Stewart of the knitting world.” A three-day extravaganza of all things stitched, knitted, felted, crocheted, loomed, and more, the festival also serves as the first stop for the 2017 SW PA Quilt Shop Hop. Buy tickets.
11. Bang on a Can All-Stars at Carnegie Lecture Hall: March 25, 8 p.m.
Sometimes live music can provide the perfect antidote to the din and dissonance of the world, especially in our 24-hour digital age. This can be said for the legendary Bang on a Can All-Stars, who will bathe audiences in their immersive, otherworldly sounds. Named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America, the electric chamber sextet is appearing in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2000. Their production is part of Carnegie Museums’ adventurous new Nexus project, which kicked off in January with a 12-event series dubbed Strange Times: Earth in the Age of the Human. For their take on the concept, Bang on a Can will perform its multimedia Field Recordings, which fuses music, film, found sounds, and obscure audio-visuals. Showcasing works by Julia Wolfe, Bill Morrison, Christian Marclay, Steve Reich, Gabriella Smith and others, the epic soundscape explores the concept of duality, while fluidly blurring boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world, and experimental music. Known for its dynamic and imaginative live performances, the ensemble features piano, guitar, percussion, bass, clarinet, saxophone, and cello. Expect to have your ears led into uncharted territories. Buy tickets.
Check out more terrific events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these and more coming up in March:
SUNSTAR Festival at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater: March 3
Aaron Draplin lecture at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont: March 3
Art auction and fundraiser benefitting Girls Rock! Pittsburgh at Percolate: March 10
Reel Q presents Reel Stories: March 10
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Park on Tap fundraiser for Allegheny Commons: March 10
From Pittsburgh, With Love fundraiser at Pittsburgh Public Theater: March 10
Standup Sisters presents Border Crossings at La Roche College: March 14
Steve Martin and Martin Short at the Benedum Center: March 15 & 16
The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center’s Shake Your Booties Down Bourbon Street! gala at Stage AE: March 25
Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-in Tour at the Benedum Center: March 26
Public Source presents author J.D. Vance at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Lecture Hall: March 30
Opening reception for 2017 Solo & Collaborative Exhibits at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts: March 31