While visiting the Pittsburgh area this past week, I saw two movies, the biopic Judy and the documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, at the Tull Family Theater. Filling a void in suburbia for independent cinema, it is designed, according to its mission statement, “to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh.”
A nonprofit organization, the theater—named in honor of billionaire Thomas Tull and his wife Alba, whose family foundation donated to the project—has no owners, being governed instead by a board of directors and administered by staffers. Rather than strictly ticket revenues, it has also depended since opening two years ago on patrons, government, corporations, and foundations.
Among the unique aspects of the theater are that it provides transportation and tickets at no cost to underprivileged children who might be attending a film for the first time, and that it has piloted low-sensory screening in the region, opening new options to families and children impacted by autism and other special needs.
During this month, the Tull has also run Sir Kenneth Branagh’s film about William Shakespeare, All is True, and through the rest of the year will show such family favorites or classics as Psycho, Amadeus, Forrest Gump, Casablanca, Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Anyone visiting the Pittsburgh area can combine a leisurely stroll through the quaint suburb of Sewickley with a performance at the theater. I hope that Pittsburgh readers will also go on to financially support this attempt to bring culture to the suburbs.