Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival Returns to Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival returns live to Lawrenceville.

Screenings are scheduled for March 18-31 at the Row House Cinema at 4115 Butler St.

Passes go on sale Friday.

“Our opening night movie will be ‘Isle of Cats,’ which has never been shown in Pittsburgh before,” said Kelsey Zehmisch, the theater’s marketing director. “Somehow over the past five years we’ve established the tradition that opening night is always cat-themed. And it’s always a lot of fun, so this movie is perfect.

The 2019 drama, directed by wildlife photographer Mitsuaki Iwago, tells the story of a retired widower who lives on a small island where cats outnumber people.

The largest Japanese film festival between New York and Chicago, the event will showcase new and classic Japanese films, special events and more. The offerings will include films never shown before in Pittsburgh, including new releases from Japan, anime selections, biopics and more.

Yakuza films, a genre about organized crime gangs in Japan, will get special attention, with selections from the 1930s to the 2010s.

“These films encapsulate the phenomenal and innovative cinema that comes from Japan. It’s truly spectacular to see them in a cinema in the festival environment,” said festival director Keith Strausbaugh. hours of reviewing and researching films to ensure that everything we screen is captivating and worthy of our audience’s attention.”

The festival is now in its fifth year. The 2020 and 2021 festivals have been canceled due to covid-19.

“It’s our biggest event of the year,” said Row House Cinema owner Brian Mendelssohn. “Our theater closed the week before the 2020 festival, which was a blow. We can’t tell you how surreal and exciting it is to be back in 2022.”

The theater’s covid safety measures include fully vaccinated staff, frequent disinfection, and requiring guests to present proof of covid-19 vaccination or a negative test within the last 72 hours.

For festival passes and information on film selections and screening times, visit jffpgh.org.

Shirley McMarlin is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Marie A. Evans