Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight

Sponsored by Mary Strauss

1917: The Real October

Thursday, November 9 at 6:45pm

In 1917 St. Petersburg, the frontline of the global war moves closer every day, and the Russian people are hungry, worried, and angry. When the tsar is overthrown in February, the revolutionary poets, thinkers, and avant-gardists are euphoric — freedom at last! —... Read more

44 Pages

Saturday, November 11 at 4:30pm

Family owned since its inception in 1946, still produced from a Colonial house in small-town Pennsylvania, and never containing a single advertisement, Highlights stands alone in the magazine publishing world. From the baby-boom generation to the tech-savvy kids... Read more

8 Borders, 8 Days

Saturday, November 11 at 2:15pm

“8 Borders, 8 Days” chronicles one woman’s personal revolution in the context of one of the greatest human-rights crises of our time. Sham, a Syrian single mother, serves as moving proof of the consequences of closing America’s doors to families fleeing war. With... Read more

ACORN and the Firestorm

Sunday, November 5 at 4:15pm

If you felt doomed to being impoverished and politically voiceless, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) hoped to change your mind — and perhaps your life. For 40 years, the controversial community-organizing group sought to empower... Read more

All the Rage

Sunday, November 5 at 1:15pm

America is experiencing an epidemic of pain. For nearly 50 years, Dr. John Sarno has been facing that epidemic head on, but like a modern-day Cassandra (crossed with Don Quixote), he has been struggling to be heard. Sarno contends that chronic pain is a... Read more

AlphaGo

Saturday, November 4 at 6:00pm

With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and AI collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-... Read more

And Then They Came for Us

Saturday, November 11 at 4:30pm

After the Trump administration called for a Muslim registry and tried to enact an immigration ban against people from Muslim-majority countries, Trump surrogate Carl Higbie cited the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II as the... Read more

Art of the Game: Ukiyo-E Heroes

Thursday, November 9 at 7:30pm

“Art of the Game” takes a highly enjoyable, fascinating look at an unlikely melding of two seemingly incompatible forms: the ancient Japanese woodcut art called ukiyo-e and illustrations inspired by modern video games. Jed Henry, a skilled American illustrator,... Read more

Ask the Sexpert

Saturday, November 11 at 5:30pm

“Ask the Sexpert” tells the story of Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a highly popular 93-year-old sex-advice columnist for a daily newspaper in India. Despite sex being a taboo topic in the country, Watsa’s brand of non-moralistic advice and humor emboldens many to write in... Read more

Atomic Homefront

Saturday, November 11 at 3:00pm

St. Louis has a little-known nuclear past as a uranium-processing center for the atomic bomb. Government and corporate negligence led to the dumping of Manhattan Project uranium, thorium, and radium, thus contaminating North St. Louis suburbs, specifically in two... Read more

Battle on the Booming Grounds

Saturday, November 4 at 2:30pm

The center of the North American continent was once a vast sea of grasses. The eastern edge of the Great Plains — which includes Missouri and Illinois — evolved a rich diversity of life, including the greater prairie chicken, its signature species, which was... Read more

The Blood Is at the Doorstep

Sunday, November 12 at 2:00pm

Offering a painfully realistic glimpse inside a movement born out of tragedy, “The Blood Is at the Doorstep” provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s most pressing social issues. A roofer by day, Nate Hamilton juggled community college and fatherhood... Read more

Brimstone & Glory

Saturday, November 11 at 12:00pm

The National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico, is a site of festivity unlike any other in the world. In celebration of San Juan de Dios, patron saint of firework-makers, conflagrant revelry engulfs the town for 10 days. Artisans show off their technical... Read more

Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll

Sunday, November 5 at 1:30pm

When St. Louis native Chuck Berry died earlier this year, the entire world mourned the passing of the rock ’n’ roll pioneer. SLIFF pays tribute to the legendary songwriter, singer, and guitarist with a screening of “Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll,” which... Read more

The Cinema Travellers

Friday, November 3 at 7:30pm

This Cannes prize-winner takes viewers on a journey with the traveling cinemas of India, which bring the wonder of the movies to faraway villages annually. Seven decades on, as their lorries and cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, these mobile... Read more

Copwatch

Sunday, November 5 at 1:00pm

In Ferguson, Michael Brown died after being shot by police. In New York, Eric Garner died after a chokehold by police. In Baltimore, Freddie Gray died being transported by police. The names of these men have been burned into our public consciousness, and the... Read more

Cradle of Champions

Sunday, November 5 at 4:00pm

Made with a dream team of documentary talent — the crew’s past films include “Citizenfour,” “Cameraperson,” “Queen of Versailles,” “Racing Dreams,” and “Cartel Land” — “Cradle of Champions” captures the epic story of three young people fighting for their lives in... Read more

Cries from Syria

Saturday, November 11 at 7:30pm

“Cries from Syria” is a cinematic monument and tribute to the Syrian people, whose bravery is an inspiration for all humanity. Five years ago, the Syrian people — inspired by events in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt — rose up against the dictatorial rule of President... Read more

Doc Shorts: China Today

Monday, November 6 at 5:00pm
A look at education and social issues in modern China.

Doc Shorts: Facing Adversity

Thursday, November 9 at 5:00pm
Examinations of how subjects navigate difficult issues.

Doc Shorts: Family Drama

Friday, November 3 at 5:00pm
All families have issues, but some have more than others.

Doc Shorts: Kept Out

Wednesday, November 8 at 5:00pm
A look at immigration from the perspective of those who cannot enter the U.S.

Doc Shorts: Music & Art

Tuesday, November 7 at 5:00pm
Profiles of artists, musicians, and the communities they serve.

Doc Shorts: Queer Life

Sunday, November 12 at 3:30pm
A slice of the lives of trans and queer people.

Doc Shorts: The Unexpected

Friday, November 10 at 5:00pm
Unusual dispatches from around the globe.

An Evening with Tom Shipley of Brewer & Shipley

Friday, November 10 at 7:30pm

St. Louis filmmaker Kathy Corley is nearing completion of a feature documentary on the folk-rock duo Brewer & Shipley, whose Top 10 hit “One Toke Over the Line” was a constant presence on the radio in the 1970s. Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley — who both now... Read more

The Experimental City

Sunday, November 12 at 1:00pm

In the 1960s, visionary scientist Athelstan Spilhaus, alarmed by the growing environmental crisis in America, worked with a team of committed urban experts to plan a domed city whose futuristic technology and innovative design would eradicate the pollution and... Read more

Faces Places

Thursday, November 9 at 4:30pm
Sunday, November 12 at 3:00pm

Eighty-nine-year old Agnès Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33-year-old French photographer and muralist JR teamed up to co-direct this enchanting documentary/road movie. Kindred spirits, Varda and JR share a lifelong passion... Read more

The Field

Sunday, November 12 at 4:00pm

Near the West Bank’s Gush Etzion Junction — between Jerusalem and Hevron — Ali Abu Awwad dedicates his family’s field as a Palestinian Center for Non-Violence. Despite a life filled with pain and conflict — his four years in an Israeli prison, his drive-by... Read more

Food Evolution

Sunday, November 12 at 1:00pm

Directed by Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker and SLIFF alum Scott Hamilton Kennedy (“Fame High”) and narrated by esteemed science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Food Evolution” is set amidst a brutally polarized debate marked by fear, distrust, and confusion... Read more

For Ahkeem

Saturday, November 11 at 7:00pm

Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a black teenager in nearby Ferguson, “For Ahkeem” is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high... Read more

Free Speech Fear Free

Sunday, November 5 at 6:00pm

Begun when precocious filmmaker Ramsay Tarquin was 15 — he’s still only 20 — “Fear Speech Fear Free” includes some footage of his youthful attempts to explore the topic of free speech and its essential importance in democracy. But those early, haphazard man-on-the... Read more

Gabe

Friday, November 3 at 7:30pm

No parent should have to bury their child, but that was the reality that the Weils of St. Louis faced when their son Gabe was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Told he would not live past 25, Gabe made it his life goal to earn a college degree. Then,... Read more

Gray Area: Wolves of the Southwest

Thursday, November 9 at 6:00pm

In the American Southwest, a unique species of wolf unlike any other is making a comeback. Considered extinct nearly 40 years ago, the little-known Mexican gray wolf has — against all odds — slowly pulled back from the very brink. From a founding population of... Read more

A Gray State

Tuesday, November 7 at 7:30pm

In 2010, David Crowley — an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker, and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics — began production on his film “Gray State,” which was set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal... Read more

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution

Friday, November 3 at 5:30pm

At the dawn of the clean-energy era, filmmaker Jamie Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey to meet the people and companies that are creating jobs, turning profits, and making communities stronger and healthier across the U.S. Unlikely entrepreneurs in... Read more

I Am Evidence

Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30pm

A powerful indictment of the criminal-justice system’s seeming indifference to the crime of rape, “I Am Evidence” exposes the shockingly large number of untested rape kits in the United States today. Despite the power of DNA to solve and prevent crimes, hundreds... Read more

Intent to Destroy

Sunday, November 12 at 7:00pm

Pulling back the curtain on mass-murder censorship in Hollywood due to U.S. government pressure to appease a strategic ally, “Intent to Destroy” embeds with a feature-film production as a springboard to explore the violent history of the Armenian genocide and the... Read more

The Islands and the Whales

Tuesday, November 7 at 6:00pm

In their remote home in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islanders have always eaten what nature could provide, proud to put local food on the table. The land yields little, so they have always relied on harvesting their seas. Hunting whales and seabirds kept them... Read more

Jackson

Sunday, November 5 at 3:00pm

“Jackson” is an intimate, unprecedented look at the lives of three women caught up in the complex issues surrounding abortion access: Shannon Brewer, the director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi; Barbara... Read more

Long Live Benjamin

Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30pm

While visiting his wife’s homeland of Venezuela in 1997, noted portrait artist Allen Hirsch unexpectedly fell in love. The object of his affection? A deathly ill, orphaned newborn Capuchin monkey named Benjamin. Nursing Benjamin back to health and sneaking him... Read more

Marvin Booker Was Murdered

Friday, November 10 at 7:00pm

On July 9, 2010, Marvin Booker, a homeless street preacher with mental-health issues, was killed by five sheriff deputies while being booked into the Denver Detention Center. The event was caught on tape and witnessed by more than 20 people. Yet the city of Denver... Read more

Master Class: Reconstructing Reality

Saturday, November 11 at 11:00am

Directors Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest and executive producer Jeff Truesdell — the filmmakers behind the St. Louis-shot “For Ahkeem,” which screens at SLIFF — lead a conversation about transforming a real story into a narrative, discussing how to shoot a... Read more

Miss Kiet's Children

Friday, November 10 at 7:30pm

Both touching and hilarious, “Miss Kiet's Children” chronicles small changes of immense consequence. Using observation alone, without interviews or voice-over, the film assumes the perspective of four refugee children of different nationalities and closely follows... Read more

Mr. Handy's Blues

Sunday, November 5 at 7:00pm

“Mr. Handy’s Blues” chronicles the life of William Christopher (aka W. C.) Handy, known worldwide as the Father of the Blues. Handy’s trajectory to success is an against-all-odds odyssey that took him from a strict religious home in Northern Alabama, to a low... Read more

Nat Bates for Mayor

Saturday, November 11 at 1:00pm

“Nat Bates for Mayor” tells the story of the outrageous 2014 mayor's race in Richmond, home to the second-largest refinery in California. In a brazen move, Chevron spends more than $3 million to back 83-year-old African-American stalwart Nat Bates. Bates makes a... Read more

Never Again: Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity

Saturday, November 11 at 12:30pm

Following World War II, at the Nuremberg trials, members of the Nazi regime were convicted of crimes against humanity as a response to the widespread and systematic atrocities they committed against civilian populations during the war, especially the attempted... Read more

Never Been a Time

Sunday, November 5 at 7:30pm

“Never Been a Time” uses the 1917 East St. Louis race riot to unpack hidden facts that reveal the complexity of racism in all of America. The film links events separated by as much as a 100 years and as few as 20 miles, tracing the line between the East St. Louis... Read more

Never Say Goodbye: The KSHE Documentary

Sunday, November 12 at 6:00pm

Director Ron Stevens traces the unlikely beginnings of the world’s longest-running rock radio station, KSHE 95, which reached its 50th year of continuous rocking in 2017. Stevens, who was himself an integral part of KSHE as a DJ in the 1970s, interviews the very... Read more

The New Fire

Monday, November 6 at 6:00pm

As the effects of climate change become more and more apparent, a new generation of nuclear engineers is on the rise, hoping to help solve the greatest environmental challenge humanity has ever faced. Despite the huge growth in renewable energy and energy... Read more

No Man's Land

Saturday, November 4 at 12:00pm

Director David Byars gives a detailed, on-the-ground account of the 2016 standoff between protesters occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities. After the leaders of the action — headed by Ammon Bundy — put out a call to arms via... Read more

Not Alone

Sunday, November 12 at 1:00pm

Driven by a desire to understand why her best friend killed herself at 16, co-director Jacqueline Monetta — herself a recent high-school grad — gets suffering teens to share their struggles with mental illness and suicide attempts. Through Monetta’s intimate one-... Read more

Pizza Shop: An Italian-American Dream

Sunday, November 12 at 2:45pm

What is an immigrant’s typical experience in America? What does he sacrifice, and what does he gain? “Pizza Shop” provides one family’s answer to those questions, lovingly illustrating what it means for Charlie and Fred Osso, immigrant brothers from Calabria,... Read more

Poisoning Paradise

Friday, November 10 at 5:30pm

In seemingly idyllic Hawaii, communities are surrounded by experimental agricultural test sites that spray pesticides upwind of their neighborhoods. “Poisoning Paradise” details the ongoing struggle by native Hawaiians to advance bold new legislation governing the... Read more

Priced Out

Saturday, November 4 at 1:00pm

At a time of skyrocketing racial and class tensions in America, “Priced Out” is an investigative and personal look at how housing prices are displacing Portland's black community and working families all across the city. The documentary explores the complexities... Read more

Rawstock

Sunday, November 12 at 6:00pm

Is your wife always two steps ahead of you? Are you not sure what’s a fact anymore? Do you struggle with specificity in your writing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, join us for “Rawstock.” This celebration of the educational films of yesteryear — a... Read more

The Rise and Fall of Books

Friday, November 10 at 7:30pm

Like many scholars in this increasingly digitized age, Buzz Spector spends a lot of time thinking about the fate of print culture. Unlike most of us, however, Spector transforms his thoughts about the future of the book into works of art. Spector, a professor of... Read more

River to the Heart

Saturday, November 4 at 1:00pm

Former St. Louisan Eddy L. Harris is the author of the lauded travel book “Mississippi Solo” (1988), which chronicled his canoe trip down the length of the Mississippi River, from its headwaters in Minnesota to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico. In “River to the... Read more

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Saturday, November 4 at 7:30pm

“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” is the first major documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. As Davis once stated: “I’m Puerto Rican,... Read more

Saving Brinton

Saturday, November 4 at 5:00pm

The tale of a gregarious Midwestern folk hero, “Saving Brinton” — a film by Tommy Haines, John Richard, and Andrew Sherburne — is at once a meditation on living small and a celebration of dreaming big. In a farmhouse basement in the Iowa countryside, eccentric... Read more

Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct

Sunday, November 5 at 7:15pm

“Seeing Is Believing” is an in-depth investigation into the challenges faced by women directors. The film focuses on the journeys of four articulate filmmakers — Lesli Linka Glatter (“Homeland”), Sarah Gavron (“Suffragette”), Li Lu (“There Is a New World Somewhere... Read more

The Smuggler and Her Charges

Sunday, November 5 at 12:05pm

In 1942, the life of a Jewish orphan — the father of director Michaël Prazan — was saved by a smuggler. More than 70 years later, his son embarks on an investigation to shed light on the gray areas of the past and to explore more fully his family’s tragic destiny... Read more

St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase Sampler

Monday, November 6 at 7:30pm
A selection of the best films from the 2017 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.

Street Fighting Men

Saturday, November 11 at 3:30pm

In a rapidly changing America where mass inequality and dwindling opportunity have devastated the black working class, three Detroit men must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations. “Street Fighting Men,” which celebrates dogged... Read more

Stumped

Saturday, November 4 at 8:00pm

Young Will Lautzenheiser had moved from Boston to Montana to teach, and his future looked bright. But when he began to feel pain in his arms and legs, an examination revealed that he was being attacked by flesh-eating microbes, and his lower arms and legs were... Read more

Surviving Home

Saturday, November 11 at 12:30pm

In honor of Veterans Day, SLIFF offers a free screening of “Surviving Home,” an intimate documentary that follows four veterans over an eight-year period as they rebuild their lives after war. Interwoven with their stories are veterans' voices from across the... Read more

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities

Friday, November 3 at 7:30pm

“Tell Them We Are Rising” explores the pivotal role that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in American history, culture, and national identity. Today, more than half of all African-American professionals are graduates of HBCUs. The... Read more

This Cold Life

Wednesday, November 8 at 6:00pm

“This Cold Life” takes an intimate look at the colorful characters who choose to live in the isolation of the world's northernmost town, Longyearbyen, which is situated high above Norway, 300 miles from the North Pole. Living with three months of total darkness... Read more

Traditional-Jazz Performance with Mr. Handy's Blues

Sunday, November 5 at 7:00pm

Joanne Fish’s “Mr. Handy’s Blues” chronicles the life of William Christopher Handy, known affectionately worldwide as the Father of the Blues. Handy’s trajectory to success is an against-all-odds odyssey that took him from a strict religious home in Northern... Read more

Tribeca Film Institute's IF/Then Short Documentary Pitch Competition

Sunday, November 12 at 2:00pm

Tribeca Film Institute's IF/Then Short Documentary Pitch Competition Award Announced

Tribeca Film Institute, in partnership with SLIFF, sought short documentary projects by filmmakers living and working in the Midwest for its new IF/Then... Read more

True Conviction

Sunday, November 5 at 4:00pm

Christopher Scott was released from prison after serving 13 years of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. That nightmare scenario is far too common: More than 30 people like Chris have been exonerated in Dallas County, Texas. Most of them are black men... Read more

Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World

Sunday, November 12 at 1:00pm

Rescued from the streets of San Pedro Sula, Honduras — murder capital of the world — orphaned girls find their voices in poetry as they heal traumas of their past and prepare to transition into an uncertain future. Founded 25 years ago in San Pedro Sula, a Central... Read more

Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution

Saturday, November 11 at 7:30pm

“Waking the Sleeping Giant” chronicles the building of a 21st-century progressive movement in the United States. Against the backdrop of an extraordinary 2016 presidential race, five remarkable individuals wrestle with persistent racial injustice, growing economic... Read more

When I Was 6, I Killed a Dragon

Sunday, November 5 at 8:30pm

One April morning in 2012, the director Bruno Romy ("The Fairy") and the artist Annabelle Cocollos are told that Mika, their 6-year-old daughter, has leukemia. Eight months later, when Mika is finally able to return to school, the family decides to make a... Read more

Whose Streets?

Sunday, November 12 at 6:00pm

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe the Black Lives Matter movement for justice, “Whose Streets?” is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it... Read more

Working in Protest

Sunday, November 5 at 7:00pm

Filmmakers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky have documented protests for more than 30 years. “Working in Protest” collects footage they’ve captured over those decades, offering a largely chronological compilation of protests from both the right and the left: Klan... Read more