Awards

24th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival Awards

Presented Nov. 15, 2015

SLIFF presented three major filmmaking awards during the course of the 2015 festival:

Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award: Alex Winter
Women in Film Award: Rosemary Rodriguez
Contemporary Cinema Award: Trent Harris

Shorts Awards

Juries choose the winners of seven awards from among the shorts in competition. The SLIFF shorts competition is officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, making the winners in the Best of Fest, Best Animated, Best Live Action, and Best Documentary categories eligible to submit for Oscar® consideration.

The 2015 winners:
Best Documentary Short: "The Surrender" directed by Stephen Maing
Best Local Short: "Ferguson 365" directed by Chris Phillips
Best Short Short: "Deathsong" directed by Malcolm Sutherland
Best International Short: “Levitation" directed by Marko Mestrovic
Best Animated Short: "Borrowed Time" directed by Andrew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Best Live-Action Short: "Birthday" directed by Chris King
Best of Fest: "Beverley" directed by Alexander Thomas

Midrash Award

Midrash St. Louis engages myriad aspects of American culture -- hot topics, deep subjects, music, arts, and film -- and seeks to give and receive commentary on the subjects and issues that matter to people in St. Louis and that form and shape our views and lives.

The Midrash St. Louis Film Award celebrates St. Louis-related films of honesty and artistry that portray the need or the hope for reconciliation or redemption. These are among the most powerful and worthy themes that films should explore. Eligible work for the Midrash St. Louis Film Award includes feature and short films largely shot in St. Louis or directed by filmmakers with strong local ties. The award comes with a cash prize of $500.

The 2015 winner:
"Four Way Stop" directed by Efi da Silva

Interfaith Awards

Juries gives Interfaith Awards to both a documentary and a narrative, choosing from among 10 competition films (five in each category), which were selected for their artistic merit; contribution to the understanding of the human condition; and recognition of ethical, social, and spiritual values.

The 2015 winners:
Best Documentary Feature: "Thao’s Library" directed by Elizabeth Van Meter
Best Narrative Feature: "Three Windows and a Hanging" directed by Isa Qosja

Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ EDA Award @ SLIFF

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) consists of highly qualified professional female movie critics, reporters, and feature writers working in print, broadcast, and online media. AWFJ’s purpose is to support work by and about women – both in front of and behind the cameras.

Among the organization’s activities is the presentation of EDA Awards at various festivals in recognition of outstanding accomplishments by and about women in the movies. The EDAs are named in honor of AWFJ founder Jennifer Merin’s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, an actress whose career spanned more than 60 years.

At SLIFF, EDA Awards are presented in two feature categories, documentaries and narratives. SLIFF chose five films in each category, and AWFJ juries evaluated the films in competition and chose the winners.

The 2015 winners:
Best Documentary Feature: "Once My Mother" directed by Sophia Turkiewicz
Best Narrative Feature: "Fidélio: Alice’s Odyssey" directed by Lucie Borleteau

St. Louis Film Critics Association Joe Pollack and Joe Williams Awards

In conjunction with the St. Louis Film Critics organization, SLIFF holds juried competitions for documentary and narrative features. The awards are named in honor of the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch critics Joe Pollack (narrative) and Joe Williams (documentary). The winners are picked by two juries composed of six St. Louis film critics. SLIFF chose eight films to compete in each category.

The 2015 winners:
Best Documentary Feature: "Romeo Is Bleeding" directed by Jason Zeldes
Best Narrative Feature: "Once in a Lifetime" directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar

Best of Fest Audience Choice Awards

Audience voting determines the winner of three awards from among the films in competition.

The 2015 winners:
Leon Award for Best Documentary Film: "Romeo Is Bleeding" directed by Jason Zeldes
TV5MONDE Award for Best International Film: "Unlikely Heroes" directed by Peter Luisi
Best Film: "The Last Mentsch" directed by Pierre-Henry Salfati

New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Director Award (The Bobbie)

The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF) annually presents the Emerging Director Award. Since its inception, NFF was co-curated by Bobbie Lautenschlager. Bobbie died in the summer of 2012, and SLIFF honors her memory by nicknaming the NFF Emerging Director Award as the Bobbie. Five works by first-time feature filmmakers competed for the prize, which includes a $500 cash award.

The 2015 winner:
"Aram, Aram" directed by Christopher Chambers


Major Filmmaker Awards

Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award

Alex Winter

Although born in England, Cinema St. Louis Award honoree Alex Winter spent his childhood in St. Louis as the son of two dancers: mother Gregg Mayer, who taught at Washington U., and father Ross Winter, who co-founded Madco (then known as Mid America Dance Company). At 13, Winter moved to New York and entered show business as a child actor, appearing on Broadway. He then came to prominence in movies such as “The Lost Boys” and the wildly popular “Bill and Ted” franchise. 

Winter continues to act on occasion, but he now works far more extensively behind the camera. He’s directed three narrative features: cult classic “Freaked”; “Fever,” which screened at Cannes; and “Smosh: The Movie,” which opened in July of this year as the No. 1 comedy on iTunes. Winter’s TV credits range from MTV’s “The Idiot Box” to Emmy-nominated work for Cartoon Network. He’s also directed numerous commercials and music videos. Recently, Winter has established equally strong credentials as a documentarian. His VH1 Rock Doc “Downloaded” earned nationwide acclaim at theatrical and festival screenings, and his award-winning documentary “Deep Web” had a well-received world premiere at SXSW. Winter is now making the definitive documentary on Frank Zappa, with exclusive access from the Zappa Family Trust.

SLIFF screens a trio of Winter’s films, with “Deep Web” opening the festival. He’ll also accompany screenings of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Downloaded.”

Previous winners of the Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award – which honors St. Louisans making significant contributions to the art of film – include Bob Gale, George Hickenlooper, Ken Kwapis, Cedric the Entertainer, James Gunn, Jenna Fischer, the Charles Guggenheim family, Jeremy Lasky, Michael Beugg, Beau Willimon, AJ Schnack, and Timothy J. Sexton.

 

Contemporary Cinema Award

Trent Harris

Independent Film & Video magazine calls Trent Harris -- the winner of our Contemporary Cinema Award -- “one of America’s premier cult directors.” Harris is best known for “Beaver Trilogy,” which screens at SLIFF with the recent documentary on the film, “Beaver Trilogy IV.” In 2001, the Los Angeles Critics Association named “Beaver Trilogy” as the Best Independent Experimental Film, and Artforum magazine placed it on its "Top Ten." Before the film became more widely available, London’s Guardian cited “Beaver Trilogy” as one of “Fifty Lost Masterpieces.” 

Beyond “Beaver Trilogy,” Harris has written and directed five other feature films: “Rubin & Ed,” “Plan 10 from Outer Space” (which also screens at SLIFF), “Delightful Water Universe,” “The Cement Ball of Earth, Heaven and Hell,” and, most recently, “Luna Mesa.” His work has screened at major film festivals and venues worldwide, including the Sundance Film Festival, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, British Film Institute, Museum of Modern Art in Vienna, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Pacific Film Archive, and Anthology Film Archives.

In his alternate career, Harris makes acclaimed documentaries for PBS, NBC, and National Geographic Explorer. His TV awards include the Cine Golden Eagle, the Gabriel, and the World Medal from New York Festivals. Harris holds master’s degrees from the University of Utah and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He is also the author of two books, “Mondo Utah” and “The Wild Goose Chronicles.” Harris’ papers and films are held at the University of Utah, Marriott Library Special Collections.

Previous winners of the Contemporary Cinema Award, which honors filmmakers in mid-career doing challenging, innovative work, include Terry Zwigoff, Alex Gibney, Jason Reitman, Jay and Mark Duplass, Arsen Anton Ostojic, and Doug Pray.

 

Women in Film Award

Rosemary Rodriguez

Rosemary Rodriguez returns to SLIFF after a 14-year absence to receive her second honor from the festival, our Women in Film Award. In 2001, she participated in our annual New Filmmakers Forum (NFF), a juried competition that features five first-time directors, with Rodriguez’s “Acts of Worship” winning NFF in an especially competitive field (among that year’s other directors, for example, was Craig Brewer, who went on to direct “Hustle & Flow”). 

Although Rodriguez didn’t make a second film till the new “Silver Skies,” which plays SLIFF, she’s scarcely been idle. Despite her absence from the big screen, Rodriguez has established an impressive career in television, working steadily as a director of hour-long dramas. Since starting her TV career in 2004 with “Third Watch,” Rodriguez has helmed episodes of more than two-dozen series, including “Law and Order,” “Rescue Me,” “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Castle,” “Elementary,” “Hell on Wheels,” and the recent mega-hit “Empire.”

Since 2010, Rodriguez has had an especially rewarding role with the award-winning “The Good Wife,” directing 15 episodes of that acclaimed series.

Previous Women in Film Award winners include Yvonne Welbon, Barbara Hammer, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Marsha Hunt, Ry Russo-Young, Pamela Yates, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, Nina Davenport, and Katie Mustard.

 

Audience Choice Awards

Audience voting determines the winner of three awards from among the films in competition: 

  • Best Film Award
  • Leon Award for Best Documentary (named in memory of the late civic leader Leon Strauss)
  • TV5MONDE Award for Best International Film 

  

Juried Competition Awards

Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ EDA Awards @ SLIFF

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) was founded in 2006 by Jennifer Merin, Maitland McDonagh, Joanna Langfield, and Jenny Halper. Its members are highly qualified professional female movie critics, reporters, and feature writers working in print, broadcast, and online media. AWFJ’s purpose is to support work by and about women – both in front of and behind the cameras – through intra-group promotional activities, outreach programs, and presentation of the annual EDA Awards in recognition of outstanding accomplishments by and about women in the movies. The EDAs are named in honor of AWFJ founder Jennifer Merin’s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, a stage, film, and television actress whose career spanned more than 60 years. 

At SLIFF, EDA Awards will be presented in two feature categories, documentaries and narratives. SLIFF chose five films in each category, and AWFJ juries evaluated the films in competition and choose a winner. The selected films:

Documentaries: Finding Bosnia, Frame by Frame, In the Game, Love Between the Covers, Once My Mother

Narratives: Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey, Margarita, with a Straw, Silver Skies, Sworn Virgin, The Wonders

The documentary jury is Michelle McCue (Chair), Laurie Coker, Betsy Pickle, and Diana Saenger

The narrative jury is Jennifer Merin (Chair), Marina Antunes, Cate Marquis, and Rebecca Pahle.

 

Interfaith Awards 

A jury gives Interfaith Awards to both a documentary and a narrative, choosing from among 10 competition films (five in each category), which were selected for their artistic merit; contribution to the understanding of the human condition; and recognition of ethical, social, and spiritual values. The selected films:

Documentaries: Among the Believers, Armor of Light, Can You Dig This, Landfill Harmonic, Thao’s Library

Narratives: Embrace of the Serpent, The Last Mentsch, Once in a Lifetime, Theeb, Three Windows and a Hanging

The selection committee was Dave Gast, retired board chairman of the Carl F. Gast Co. (chair);  Delcia Corlew, Cinema St. Louis board member; Janet Herrmann, former Cinema St. Louis board member; Paul Marsh, retired architect; Pier Marton, artist/filmmaker and former university professor; Alma Merabet, intellectual-property manager for media-related issues; and Pat Scallet, filmmaker and editor.

The documentary jury is Janet Herrmann; Jan Rosamond, retired graphic designer and practicing Buddhist; and Pat Scallet

The feature jury is Sandra Olmstead, Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University and freelance producer and editor for HEC-TV; Joya Uraizee, associate chair, Department of English, and associate professor, English & International Studies, Saint Louis University; and Betty White, retired professor of English.

 

Midrash St. Louis Film Award

Midrash St. Louis (www.midrashstl.com) engages myriad aspects of American culture -- hot topics, deep subjects, music, arts, and film -- and seeks to give and receive commentary on the subjects and issues that matter to people in St. Louis and that form and shape our views and lives. 

The Midrash St. Louis Film Award celebrates St. Louis-related films of honesty and artistry that portray the need or the hope for reconciliation or redemption. These are among the most powerful and worthy themes that films should explore. Eligible work for the Midrash St. Louis Film Award includes feature and short films largely shot in St. Louis or directed by filmmakers with strong local ties. The award comes with a cash prize of $500.

The Midrash jury is Tim Ezell, media personality, pastor, and film lover; Michael Leary, research ethicist, professor of biblical studies, and writer and editor of many books and publications on global cinema; Bob Oesch, attorney at law and leader of Midrash St. Louis; Michele Oesch, film aficionado and nonprofit fundraiser; and Aditya Siram, SLIFF volunteer and pop-culture gadfly.

 

NFF Emerging Director Award: The Bobbie

The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF) annually presents the Emerging Director Award. Five works by first-time feature filmmakers compete for the prize, which includes a $500 cash award. The selected films:

NFF Films: Aram, Aram, Four Way Stop, Heaven’s Floor, It Had to Be You, Love Land

Since its inception, NFF was co-curated by Bobbie Lautenschlager. Bobbie died in the summer of 2012, and SLIFF honors her memory by nicknaming the NFF Emerging Director Award as the Bobbie.

The NFF jury is Gerald Perry (chair), former film critic for the Boston Phoenix and director of “For the Love of Movies” and 2015 SLIFF documentary “Archie’s Betty”; Diane Carson, film critic for KDHX (88.1 FM), professor emeritus of St. Louis Community College at Meramec, and adjunct professor at Webster University; Paul Dalio, director of 2015 SLIFF narrative “Touched with Fire”; Brian Jun, director of 2015 SLIFF film “Sleep with Me” and past NFF winner “Steel City”; Kristina Nikolova, producer/cinematographer of 2015 SLIFF film “Touched with Fire” and director of past NFF winner “Faith, Love and Whiskey”; Andrew Wyatt, film critic for St. Louis Magazine.

 

Shorts Awards 

Two juries choose the winners of following seven awards from among the shorts in competition:

  • Best of Fest
  • Best Animated Short
  • Best Documentary Short
  • Best International Short
  • Best Live Action Short
  • Best Local Short
  • Best Short Short (less than 5 minutes)

The SLIFF shorts competition is officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, making the winners in the Best of Fest, Best Animated, Best Live Action, and Best Documentary categories eligible to submit for Oscar® consideration. 

The narrative-shorts jury is Bill Appleton, museum film programmer and freelance arts critic; James Harrison, director of the Webster University Film Series; Dr. Rebecca Housel, #PopCultureProfessor, comic-con speaker, author and editor for Wiley's Philosophy & Pop Culture series, and blogger at RebeccaHousel.com; Melissa Howland, LA editor for WeAreMovieGeeks.com; Chris Sagovac, associate professor of animation at Webster University; Andy Triefenbach, owner and editor-in-chief of DestroytheBrain.com and programmer of the Late Nite Grindhouse series; Kenya Vaughn, journalist with St. Louis American and stlamerican.com; and Lynelle White, television writer (“Z Nation,” “Army Wives”).

The documentary-shorts jury is Leigh Kolb, English and journalism instructor for East Central College and film and TV critic for various publications; Ben Scholle, documentarian and assistant professor of communication at Lindenwood University; and Stacey Woelfel, associate professor at the School of Journalism and director of Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri.

 

St. Louis Film Critics’ Joe Pollack and Joe Williams Awards

In conjunction with the St. Louis Film Critics organization, SLIFF holds juried competitions for documentary and narrative features. The awards are named in honor of the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch critics Joe Pollack (narrative) and Joe Williams (documentary). The winners are picked by two juries composed of six St. Louis film critics. SLIFF chose eight films to compete in each category:

Documentaries: The Anthropologist, Becoming Bulletproof, The Champions, In My Father’s House, Killing Them Safely, My Voice, My Life, Romeo Is Bleeding, Thank You for Playing

Narratives: Band of Robbers, The Dinner, Embrace of the Serpent, The Kindergarten Teacher, Once in a Lifetime, Sea Fog, The Summer of Sangaile, Theeb

The documentary jury is Pete Timmermann (chair), PlaybackSTL.com; Martha Baker, KDHX 88.1 FM; Mary Cox, Alton Telegraph; Mark Reardon, KMOX Radio; Tom Stockman, WeAreMovieGeeks.com; and Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat. 

The narrative jury is Jim Batts (chair), WeAreMovieGeeks.com; Diane Carson, KDHX 88.1 FM; Mark Glass, Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch website; Robert Hunt, Riverfront Times; Karl Sides, FlickFanatic.com; WDLJ 95.7FM; and Jim Tudor, TwitchFilm.com and ZekeFilm.org.