The mission of Cinema St. Louis is to showcase the best in international, documentary, and American independent cinema. Believing that we discover something about ourselves when we learn about others' cultures and perspectives, Cinema St. Louis offers programs that provide glimpses of the human experience from around the world and thoughtfully address issues of race, ethnicity, and sexual identity.
In January 1992, a consortium of nonprofits and universities (Grand Center, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Film Partnership, Webster University, Legacy Productions, and Washington University) was established to present the first St. Louis Film Festival in April 1992. The St. Louis Film Festival Inc. was subsequently established as a Missouri not-for-profit corporation in July 1992. The organization received its 501(c)3 status from the IRS in April 1993. In 1998, the organization changed its name to the St. Louis International Film Festival to emphasize the event's international component. In 2002, the organization was renamed Cinema St. Louis to reflect its commitment to year-round programming beyond the festival.
Now in its 27th year, Cinema St. Louis (CSL) presents five annual events and co-presents additional film-related programming through the year.
The organization's premier event is the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), which is held in November. SLIFF presents the finest in recent international, American independent, and documentary film. As part of SLIFF, CSL presents the annual Georgia Frontiere Cinema for Students Program, which offers free screenings (both at venues and in schools) to St. Louis-area elementary, middle, and high schools.
Beyond SLIFF, CSL has also steadily increased its year-round presence with additional programming.
Since 2002, CSL has annually presented the multi-day St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase (SLFS), held in July, which highlights work made by filmmakers with St. Louis roots. (Another event established in 2002, the screenwriting competition CinemaSpoke, was presented by CSL through 2011.)
In 2009, CSL launched an annual French Film Festival. In 2011, that fest was refocused to concentrate exclusively on older works — it's now known as the Classic French Film Festival and is held in March.
In 2010, CSL officially added the LGBTQ-focused QFest to its annual lineup (CSL co-presented QFest during the two previous years). QFest takes place in April.
In 2013 and 2014, CSL presented a children's film festival, SLIFF/Kids, which featured both free screenings and filmmaking camps. The free filmmaking camps continue to be held in July, but the family programming of SLIFF/Kids has now been incorporated into SLIFF.
CSL added another annual event to its portfolio in 2014 when it took charge of the St. Louis component of the 48 Hour Film Project. The event occurs in June.
CSL also holds individual screenings, film series, and educational programs throughout the year. In 2011, for example, CSL presented the highly successful Vincentennial, a 10-day celebration of native St. Louisan Vincent Price's 100th birthday.
CSL frequently works in conjunction with other St. Louis organizations, including collaborations with Citygarden, St. Louis Science Center, Washington University's Film & Media Archive, Webster University Film Series, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Public Library, Missouri History Museum, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.