Chi-Raq, Spike Lee, 2015

Chi-Raq, Spike Lee, 2015

7. Faces of Conflict CMU International Film Festival: March 17 – April 3

With Spike Lee as this year’s featured speaker, Carnegie Mellon’s 10th annual International Film Festival is one cinema happening you shouldn’t miss. Spanning three weeks, four venues and 14 countries, the festival pairs 17 award-winning independent films with engaging Q&As, panel discussions, lectures, receptions, youth programs, and short film competitions—all exploring the complex nature of conflict. The festivities kick off March 17 with an opening night screening and reception featuring the Oscar-nominated Danish film, A War. Written, directed and produced by Tobias Lindholm, the gripping drama weaves intense scenes of military battles, courtroom events and a family’s struggles during wartime. Mark your calendar for the exclusive event on March 19 with renowned filmmaker Spike Lee, who will discuss his career, creative practice and perspectives on the Academy Awards. The special night will feature the Pittsburgh premiere of Lee’s satirical musical drama, Chi-Raq, a Q&A and a reception. Additional festival highlights include Matthew Heineman’s Oscar-nominated documentary Cartel Land about the Mexican drug war, and Kim Longinotto’s award-winning doc, Dreamcatcher, which explores human trafficking in America through the eyes of former prostitute Brenda Myers-Powell. Purchase tickets.

Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution. Photo: www.thecutmagazine.com

Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution. Photo: www.thecutmagazine.com

8. Bicentennial Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District: March 18

You may have never heard of Ebenezer Denny—hint: Pittsburgh’s first Mayor—but all year long you’re invited to celebrate the city’s incorporation in 1816 during one big bicentennial bash. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is getting in on the fun by expanding its popular quarterly Gallery Crawl to add a March showcase with brand new venues and attractions. Extending its footprint to include programming at the City Council Building, Market Square and the Omni William Penn, the first-of-its-kind Bicentennial Crawl features four-plus hours of free visual arts exhibitions, live music, comedy, dance performances and hands-on activities open to all ages. Jumpstart your spring shopping season at the indoor Night Market, experience provocative multimedia works by award-winning international artists, check out vintage Pittsburgh maps at Shaw Galleries, and head to Katz Plaza to heat up with dazzling performances by Steel Town Fire and R&B powerhouse band Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution. Did we mention that it’s all free? View a complete schedule.

Courtesy Farm to Table Conference

Courtesy Farm to Table Conference

9. Farm To Table Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: March 18 & 19

The motto for this year’s Farm to Table Conference would make for a great bumper sticker: Keep it Real, Keep it Local. A celebration of its decade-long role within the local food movement, the auspicious 10th anniversary edition is looking bigger and better than ever—boasting expanded programs, 200-plus interactive exhibits and speakers, inspiring cooking and gardening demos, wellness talks, a farm fresh breakfast, kids’ activities, and more. And the timing is perfect as we count the minutes until we welcome daffodils, CSA deliveries, al fresco dining and fresh new recipes for spring. This signature convergence is the best place to learn all about where your food comes from and how you can adopt healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices. The popular Friday night Local Food Tasting will double in size, and brand new this year is the Real Meal Purveyors local food court and a free admission deal for seniors. Don’t miss Saturday’s new “Farm to Flask” event and Community Kitchen Pittsburgh’s 2nd annual Project Lunch Tray cooking competition, where students and chefs will rewrite the book on school lunches.

Ran, Akira Kurosawa, 1985

Ran, Akira Kurosawa, 1985

10. Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival at Row House Cinema: March 18 – 24

There’s a brand new film festival in town and fans of Japanese cinema will rejoice. From the final film made by groundbreaking Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa to the world’s first rap battle musical, the first annual Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival will delight and inspire. Setting up shop at the Lawrenceville movie and beer mecca, the weeklong showcase explores the rich diversity of Japanese filmmaking via top historic and recent works, a variety of genres, Q&As and panel discussions. On opening night, don’t miss the Pittsburgh premiere of Sion Sono’s 2015 film, Tokyo Tribe, a fantastical action drama told almost entirely told in rhyme. Dubbed a “dystopian hip-hop kung-fu musical,” the kaleidoscopic work will transport audiences to a futuristic world populated by warring rapper gangs, martial arts, dance scenes and retro street fashions. The opening ceremonies will also feature Japanese Mochi, snacks, and specialty Japanese craft beers. Additional festival highlights include Kurosawa’s pioneering 1985 film, Ran, based on the Shakespeare’s King Lear, Yasujiro Ozu’s modern masterpiece Late Spring and the Pittsburgh premiere of Isao Takahata’s stunning animated work, Only Yesterday.

Courtesy Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Courtesy Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

11. Empty Bowls Dinner at Rodef Shalom Congregation: March 20

Did you know that one in seven Allegheny County residents faces hunger? One of the best ways you can help combat hunger—and enjoy a nutritious meal of homemade bread and soup—is at the 21st annual Empty Bowls Dinner. Combining good deeds, local art and the simple act of sharing a meal, Empty Bowls features several hundred gallons of soup created by 36 local restaurants—including favorites like Thai Corn Chowder and Chicken Noodle—all served by local celebrities, TV and radio personalities and elected officials. Soup-lovers will eat for a cause with locally made artisan pottery that they can take home. The soup social will also feature family-friendly entertainment, hands-on activities led by the Children’s Museum, and a signature silent auction bid featuring ceramic art, celebrity-autographed bowls and yummy soups. Empty Bowls has raised an impressive $500,000 to fight hunger, with proceeds benefitting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest. New this year are two seating times—from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Credence, Dawn Pogany

Credence, Dawn Pogany

12. Finder Quigley Pop-up Art Show at the August Wilson Center: March 26

If you’re looking for a conversation piece for that bare wall, want to add to your art collection or simply want to network with local artists—without expensive admission fees and an air of exclusivity—then Finder Quigley is for you. The latest brainchild of Genevieve Barbee—who shares compelling conversations with local artists via her AP Collection podcast—the thoughtfully curated series of intimate, pop-up art shows invites the public to explore collecting, chat with local makers, purchase work on site, and enjoy refreshments (read: no cheese cubes). You can even have your artwork wrapped professionally to take home that night. The March installment is a terrific way to honor Women’s History Month with a one-day showcase of diverse female driven talent. The show features female-identified artists and is opening in conjunction with the premiere of damaskus Theater Collective‘s production, You Wouldn’t Expect, which examines government-sanctioned sterilization in the South. Attendees will peruse new work by and mingle with artists Dawn Pogany, Emily Miller, hanski, Maggie Lynn Negrete, Christine Bethea, Julie Mallis, Dail Chambers and Naomi Walker. Prices for the artwork range from $100 to $1,000. The series’ unique moniker is a mashup of the fictional Dungeons & Dragons character, Finder Wyvenspur, and the Gaelic origins of “Quigley” which refer to spinning and weaving arts.

Check out more events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these coming up in March:

Cocktails & Conservation at St. Nicholas Catholic Croatian Church: March 4

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s opening at the Heinz History Center: March 4

Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced opening at Pittsburgh Public Theater: March 10

Sex with Strangers opening at City Theatre Company: March 12

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild: March 18 & 19

The Reel Q LGBT Film Festival‘s John Cameron Mitchell weekend at Row House Cinema: March 25 & 26

The Glue Factory Project’s Right of Way at the New Hazlett Theater: March 30

Looking for live music? Read our 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in March feature.