About the Festival

2019 SLIFF

Submissions are now open for the 28th annual St. Louis International Film Festival via FilmFreeway and Withoutabox. The festival dates will be Nov. 7-17, 2019. Submissions are now closed.

2018 SLIFF

The 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) provided the opportunity for St. Louis filmgoers to view the finest in world cinema — international films, documentaries, American indies, and shorts that can only be seen on the big screen at the festival.

SLIFF presented our usual array of fest buzz films and Oscar contenders, including “3 Faces,” “Ash Is Purest White,” “Ben Is Back,” “Boy Erased,” “Capernaum,” “The Captain,” “The Chaperone,” “Cold War,” “Destroyer,” “Diane,” “Dogman,” “Everybody Knows,” “The Front Runner,” “Green Book,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Image Book,” “Little Woods,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “Mapplethorpe,” “Non-Fiction,” “Shoplifters,” “Support the Girls,” “Transit,” “Vox Lux,” “ “Widows,” “Wildlife,” and “Zama.”

SLIFF honored seven significant film figures with our annual awards: Joe Edwards and John Goodman with Lifetime Achievement Awards; Jason Reitman with a Contemporary Cinema Award; Jim Finn, Jane Gillooly, and Karyn Kusama with Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Awards; and Melanie Mayron with a Women in Film Award. For more information on our honorees, see the Awards section.

Below are some of the other highlights of last year’s SLIFF.

Download the 2018 program book PDF

Archival Presentations

In addition to screening the freshest and finest cinematic works of today, SLIFF offers archival presentations that survey film history.

As part of our Tribute to John Goodman, the fest screens “The Big Lebowski” on its 20th anniversary.

SLIFF also inaugurates a new program, Golden Anniversaries, that features films celebrating their 50th anniversaries. The first edition focuses on 1968 and features a half-dozen films, with five screening for free at the St. Louis Public Library.

The fest annually features silent films with live accompaniment, and this year we provide a new restoration of Alan Dwan’s “The Half Breed” — starring Douglas Fairbanks — with a newly created score by the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra. The film appears on a double bill with the documentary “I, Douglas Fairbanks.”

Two other double bills also feature documentaries on important filmmakers — Hal Ashby and Ingmar Bergman — paired with new restorations of one of their essential films: “Hal” with “Shampoo” and “Searching for Ingmar Bergman” with “Persona.”

Environmental Focus

SLIFF expands it environmental offerings in 2017 to a full dozen, with nine of the films screening for free. The locally relevant “Dirty Laundry” plays twice — in both St. Louis and Alton, Ill.

Sponsored by Carol & Ward Klein

Filmmaker Conversations

SLIFF provides a pair of free conversations with filmmakers open to all: SLIFF’s annual NFF Coffee and an International Documentary Association program featuring documentarian AJ Schnack. See the Special Events section for full information.

Free Programs

SLIFF continues its tradition of offering a large selection of free events to maximize its outreach into the community and to make the festival affordable to all. In addition, for the 15th year, we present the Georgia Frontiere Cinema for Students Program, which provides free screenings to St. Louis-area schools.

Among this year’s 65 free programs are all of the screenings in the Human Rights Spotlight at Washington U.; SLIFF/Kids family films at The Gathering, Missouri History Museum, and Tivoli; and eight documentaries at The Gathering, which serves as a new fest venue. SLIFF also offers free screenings of all of our documentary-shorts programs and nine documentaries in our Environmental Focus.

See the Free Events section for full details.

Georgia Frontiere Cinema for Students Program

SLIFF offers free daytime screenings for children and teens from participating St. Louis-area schools. This year’s selections — with many accompanied by the filmmakers — include shorts, documentary features, narrative features, and shorts programs. See the Cinema for Students section of the SLIFF website for full information.

Sponsored by Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rosenbloom (in honor of Georgia Frontiere), with support from Jane M. & Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation

Busing sponsored by Hawkins Foundation

Human Rights Spotlight

This selection of documentaries focuses on human-rights issues in the U.S. and the world. Screenings take place Nov. 2-4 and Nov. 9-11 at Washington U.; all films are free and open to the public. The 14 programs of the Human Rights Spotlight feature accompanying directors and subjects and/or post-film discussions with experts. For additional films related to human rights, see the Subjects section in Film Categories.

Sponsored by Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society for International and Area Studies at Washington University and Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University

Live-Performance Programs

SLIFF offers a fine selection of music-related documentaries and narratives — see Music Spotlight in the Film Categories section for the full list — but the highlight of those offerings are our programs with live performances.

Not to be missed is SLIFF’s annual silent: Alan Dwan’s “The Half Breed” with an original score and accompaniment by St. Louis’ Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra.

Live performances are also offered after the screenings of a quartet of music documentaries: “Blue Note Records” (performance by the Adam Maness Trio); “The Center of Nowhere” (performance by singer/songwriter Abbey Waterworth); “Fiddlin’” (performance by guitarist Presley Barker); and “Satan & Adam” (performance by the Blues Doctors).

Sponsored by Nancy & Ken Kranzberg

Mean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television

SLIFF’s Mean Streets program focuses on the racial divide in St. Louis and other U.S. cities. The program also offers an international perspective with “Naila and the Uprising,” which deals with the intractable conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Mean Streets is supported by The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative, an initiative of Washington U.’s Center for the Humanities that addresses one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.

Sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at Washington University

New Filmmakers Forum

The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF), a juried competition of works by first-time feature filmmakers, is an annual highlight of SLIFF. The featured films this year are “Farmer of the Year,” “Parallel Chords,” “Point Man,” “Saviors,” and “They Are Strangers.” The filmmakers accompany the screenings at the Tivoli from Nov. 9-10, and they participate in a roundtable discussion at the free NFF Coffee on Nov. 11 at the Stage at KDHX. The screenings and coffee are hosted by the Missouri Film Office’s Andrea Sporcic Klund. The NFF Emerging Filmmaker Award — nicknamed the Bobbie in honor of the late Bobbie Lautenschlager, NFF’s longtime curator — is presented at SLIFF’s Closing-Night Awards Presentation and Party at the Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery & Bierhall.

Sponsored by Joni Tackette Casting and Pat Scallet

Parties and Receptions

SLIFF kicks off with an Opening-Night Reception before the St. Louis premiere of “Destroyer,” with director Karyn Kusama — a native of St. Louis — and co-screenwriter Phil Hay in attendance. The reception features complimentary Urban Chestnut beers, Broadside Winery wines, and vodka cocktails. The festival concludes with a free Closing-Night Awards Presentation and Party at the Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery & Bierhall. SLIFF announces its winners, and complimentary beer and wine are served.

Opening-Night Reception with “Destroyer” sponsored by Judee & Richard Sauget, Zin-Graff Motion Pictures

Closing-Night Awards Presentation and Party sponsored by Judee & Richard Sauget, Zin-Graff Motion Pictures and co-presented with Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Race in America: The Black Experience

Because the events in Ferguson continue to resonate in St. Louis and the country, SLIFF again offers a large number of programs organized under the title Race in America: The Black Experience. Among the highlights are the the narrative features “Green Book,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and “Little Woods”; the documentary features “Say Her Name,” “This One’s for the Ladies,” and “United Skates”; and the St. Louis-focused “The Color of Medicine,” Doc Shorts: Black Voices, and “Where the Pavement Ends.” To maximize accessibility and promote dialogue, 16 of the 30 programs in Race in America are offered for free.

Sponsored by William A. Kerr Foundation, with support from Saint Louis University's Office of Diversity and Community Engagement

Show-Me Cinema

Films made in St. Louis and Missouri or by current and former St. Louisans and Missourians are an annual focus of SLIFF. This year’s lineup of Show-Me Cinema is especially strong, featuring 21 programs.

Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to actor John Goodman, a native of St. Louis, and to Blueberry Hill’s Joe Edwards, who restored the Tivoli Theatre. A trio of former St. Louisans — Jim Finn (“The Drunkard’s Lament”), Jane Gillooly (“Where the Pavement Ends”), and Karyn Kusama (opening-night film “Destroyer”) — receive Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Awards, and former Cinema St. Louis Award honoree AJ Schnack returns for a free edition of the IDA Conversation Series.

Among the other highlights: the world premiere of Kathy Corley’s music documentary “One Toke Over the Line and Still Smokin’,” about the duo Brewer & Shipley; the narrative features “The Big Muddy,” “In the Wake of Ire,” and “Parallel Chords”; the documentary features “Bisbee ’17,” “The Center of Nowhere,” “The Color of Medicine,” “Day One,” and “Living in Tents”; the shorts programs Doc Shorts: Black Voices and St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase Sampler; and encore presentations of four documentaries from the Showcase.

Sponsored by Missouri Division of Tourism, Missouri Film Office, and St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

SLIFF/Kids Family Films

Cinema St. Louis annually presents a selection of family films, including a pair of free screenings on our second weekend (Nov. 10-11) at the Missouri History Museum: “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” and “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” In addition, on our first weekend, the fest offers free family-friendly shorts programs at The Gathering and free screenings of “Inventing Tomorrow” and “Modest Heroes” at the Tivoli. Other family-friendly programs include “Yamasong,” “Zoo,” and “Zombillenium.”

Sponsored by Carol & Ward Klein

Women in Film Spotlight

The festival always devotes a significant amount of attention to the contributions of women in film. This year is highlighted by our Women in Film Award honoree, actor and director Melanie Mayron, who accompanies the screening of “Snapshots.” SLIFF also examines the current state of women in the film industry through Tom Donahue’s “This Changes Everything.”