The 19th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival
While St. Louis may not be Cannes, Sundance, New York or Los Angeles, that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own film festival. The 19th annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) has officially begun, and as usual, it is packed with must-see feature films, documentaries and shorts—more than 300 of them to be exact. With Oscar contenders and foreign films galore, SLIFF, which runs from Nov. 11 to 21, is not something you want to miss.
“Casino Jack,” starring Kevin Spacey, kicked off the festival Thursday night at the Tivoli Theatre. The screening was preceded by a reception with director George Hickenlooper, a St. Louis native. Don’t fret if you missed it though; the reception was just one of many opportunities that audiences will have to talk to filmmakers at SLIFF.
Each year, SLIFF attracts major Oscar contenders, allowing festival-goers to see the films before they are released in St. Louis. Last year, the festival featured Oscar-nominees “An Education,” “Up in the Air” and “Precious.” This year’s line-up promises not to disappoint.
This Sunday, Nov. 14 at 7.p.m., “127 Hours,” directed by Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire,” will play at the Hi-Pointe Theatre right down the street from Wash. U. “127 Hours” reunites the Oscar-winning director, cinematographer, screenwriter and composer from “Slumdog” and stars the lauded James Franco as a mountain climber who survives for five days under a boulder in Utah.
Playing that same night at 7 p.m. in Wash. U.’s Brown Hall is “Winter’s Bone.” The best part is that the showing’s free. That’s right: a very strong Oscar contender for absolutely no money. The film is sponsored by the Missouri Film Commission and co-presented by the University’s Film and Media Studies program. Make sure to check it out for Jennifer Lawrence’s chilling performance as a girl who hunts for her missing father in the Ozarks. As an added bonus, the movie was shot right here in Missouri.
If you want to stay up-to-date on your possible award winners, you might also want to check out Darren Aronofsky’s (the director of “The Wrestler”) “Black Swan.” Starring Winona Ryder, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, “Swan” explores the dark relationship between rival ballet dancers. It will play next Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Hi-Pointe.
Of course, a film festival wouldn’t be complete without foreign films. Hailing from Thailand, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” will play twice during the festival. “Uncle Boonmee” follows the title character as he is dying from kidney failure. His last days are filled with hallucinations and visions. Check it out Friday, Nov. 12 at 9:45 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 13 at 8:15 p.m. at the Plaza Frontenac.
SLIFF also features many series of short films. Particularly intriguing is a series of documentary shorts entitled “Show Business.” The series looks at burlesque and drag through three shorts—“Dirty Martini,” “Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School” and “Royally Genderfucked: Drag Culture in St. Louis”—which are accompanied by performances from burlesque performer Lola van Ella and drag queen Siren. The documentary shorts series will be playing on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. at Webster University.
Friday, Nov. 12
“Blue Valentine,” 7 p.m., Hi-Pointe Theatre
“Uncle Boonmee,” 9:45 p.m., Plaza Frontenac Cinema
“Senso,” 7 p.m., Webster University
Saturday, Nov. 13
“One Lucky Elephant,” 5:45 p.m., Hi-Pointe
“Hayfever,” 6 p.m., Plaza Frontenac
“Women Without Men,” 7:15 p.m., Plaza Frontenac
Sunday, Nov. 14
“Fat City,” 1 and 4:30 p.m., Lindenwood University
“I Killed My Mother,” 7 p.m., Plaza Frontenac
“Winter’s Bone,” 7 p.m., Brown Hall at Wash. U.
“127 Hours,” 7 p.m., Hi-Pointe
“Valhalla Rising,” 9:15 p.m., Hi-Pointe
To purchase tickets for the Tivoli or Plaza Frontenac, stop by the respective theater’s box office or visit its website. Hi-Pointe and Webster University tickets are also available at the Tivoli box office. If you want to buy tickets the day of the show, you can stop by the box office a half hour before the showing. Going to a screening at Wash. U.? Don’t stress. They’re all free and don’t require tickets.
Below is a schedule of notable events, so that you can plan accordingly and avoid reading the whole program. That said, if you don’t trust my picks, visit the official website for more information and a full schedule of showings at www.cinemastlouis.org/festival.