St. Louis International Film Festival

| Senior Cadenza Editor

Thursday, November 13 to Sunday, November 23

You’ve always wanted to go to a film festival, but it’s far too expensive to fly to Cannes, and you’re not really feeling the whole Utah in January scene. Well, my friend, you are in luck! Thursday begins the 17th annual Saint Louis International Film Festival. SLIFF, as it is more commonly known, was started in 1992 with the hopes of making film a more recognizable and dominant art form in St. Louis and showcases 25 innovative, independent films. SLIFF has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Now run by the non-profit Cinema St. Louis, SLIFF is one of the biggest festivals in the Midwest. Starting this Thursday, Nov. 13, and running until Sunday, Nov. 23, St. Louis will host more than 260 features, documentaries and shorts hailing from all over the world. But SLIFF does not just screen international and independent films; a lot of the movies playing have received rave reviews, and some have even generated Oscar buzz. France’s winning drama, “The Class” (showing at Plaza Frontenac on Nov. 22) was awarded the coveted Palm d’Or at Cannes. Peter Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” about an 18-year-old trying to win the love of his life by winning India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” took home Toronto’s People’s Choice Award. And Mickey Rourke’s performance in “The Wrestler” has been warranting some talk of an Oscar nomination (but you can see for yourself at the Tivoli on Nov. 23.)

This year, SLIFF is awarding a Lifetime Achievement Award to Paul Schrader, writer of “Raging Bull” and the man responsible for introducing us to Richard Gere and Richard Gere’s junk in “American Gigolo.” Schrader will also be screening his newest film, “Adam Resurrected,” starring Jeff Goldblum as a magnetic Holocaust survivor living in a mental institution. And Saint Louis natives Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs will be holding a question-and-answer session after the showing of their film, “Humboldt County,” a moving story about a disillusioned UCLA med student who finds himself stranded on a pot-farm.

Although you probably won’t see George Clooney or Brangelina on the Loop this week, SLIFF has had some notable attendees in the past, including Ken Burns, Cedric the Entertainer and Kevin Kline.

With its dramas, comedies, romances and movies about exploiting the Pope’s visit to your town by buying a porta-potty and charging people to use it (Uruguay’s “The Pope’s Toilet,” Nov. 19), SLIFF has something to satisfy everyone.

Feeling a void now that the election is over? You can get your fix by watching the insane amount of work that goes into the senior-class presidential election at the renowned Stuyvesant High School in “Frontrunners.” What about those documentaries, you ask? From America’s dependence on oil (“Fuel,” Nov. 16) to the Miss Gay America contest (“Pageant,” Tivoli, Nov. 19) to soccer’s recogni-tion as a unifying global force (“The Power of the Game,” Nov. 23), the docs at SLIFF portray interesting takes on a wide variety of subjects.

Or, if you are a big Pixar fan, you can see 13 of their amazing shorts for free on Nov. 21 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. And, because vampires and teenagers go together like peanut butter and jelly, don’t miss Sweden’s “Let the Right One In” (Nov. 15) —a Hollywood remake is already in the works.

With so many good movies showing so close to campus (“The Making of Wall-E” is actually showing in Brown), SLIFF is an event not to be missed. Check out our picks, and for more information about schedules, other movies and advanced ticket sales, check out http://www.cinemastlouis.org/.