Lifetime Achievement Awards

Previous SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award winners include directors Michael Apted, Charles Burnett, Joe Dante, Paul Schrader, and Oliver Stone; acting legends Tony Curtis, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Stacy Keach, Kevin Kline, Marsha Mason, and Kathleen Turner; independent filmmakers Jon Jost, Rob Nilsson, and John Sayles and Maggie Renzi; documentarians Joe Berlinger, Les Blank, Ken Burns, Steve James, Albert Maysles, Ross McElwee, Sam Pollard, and Gordon Quinn; comedians Jerry Lewis and Harry Shearer; animators Bill Plympton and Michael Sporn; and longtime Cinema St. Louis board chair Kim Tucci.

Joe Edwards

Joe Edwards in the Moonrise Hotel

At a tribute program at Delmar Hall, SLIFF recognizes businessman, developer, and civic leader Joe Edwards, whose many accomplishments include the restoration of the Tivoli Theatre, SLIFF’s longtime main venue. Dubbed “The Duke of Delmar” by St. Louis Magazine, he has led the efforts that helped transform the Delmar Loop into one of the most vibrant districts in the country. In 2007, the American Planning Association named The Loop “One of the 10 Great Streets in America.”

In 1972, Edwards opened Blueberry Hill restaurant and music club, sparking a decades-long revitalization of the street. Rock legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Berry, an old friend of Edwards’, performed monthly in Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. Edwards has since renovated numerous historic buildings in The Loop and around St. Louis. His ventures include the restored 1924 Tivoli Theatre (1995), Pageant (2000), Pin-Up Bowl (2003), Flamingo Bowl in downtown St. Louis (2007), Moonrise Hotel (2009), Peacock Loop Diner (2014), and Delmar Hall (2016). In 1988, Edwards founded the nonprofit St. Louis Walk of Fame to honor great St. Louisans and their contributions to American culture. Edwards’ most recent project is the Delmar Loop Trolley, a fixed-track vintage trolley system that links The Loop to MetroLink and Forest Park attractions.

Among his laurels, Edwards has received the prestigious St. Louis Award and honorary doctorates from Washington University, Saint Louis University, and University of Missouri-St. Louis. He also has been honored with Washington University’s Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis for his work in historic preservation and community revitalization.

John Goodman

John Goodman photo by Sam Jones

John Goodman — whose tribute program includes a screening of “The Big Lebowski” on its 20th anniversary — grew up in Affton and graduated in 1975 from Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State) in Springfield, Mo. He soon moved to New York City to begin his acting career. On Broadway, from 1985-87, Goodman starred as Pap Finn in Roger Miller’s musical take on Mark Twain, winning a Drama Desk nomination. In recent years, he’s returned to the stage with “American Buffalo” in London and “The Front Page” on Broadway.

Goodman began earning film roles in the 1980s, debuting in “Eddie Macon’s Run” (1983) and receiving increasingly prominent roles in such films as “Sweet Dreams” (1985), “True Stories” (1986), and “The Big Easy” (1986). He began a long collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen with “Raising Arizona” in 1987, and he’s since appeared in the Coens’ “Barton Fink” (1991), “The Big Lebowski” (1998), “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000), and “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013). Goodman’s filmography is extensive, but other highlights of his career include “Sea of Love” (1989), Steven Spielberg’s “Always” (1989), “King Ralph” (1991), “The Babe” (1992), “Matinee” (1993), “Fallen” (1998), Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead” (1999), “The Artist” (2011), “Argo” (2012), “Flight” (2012), and “10 Cloverfield Lane” (2016). Goodman also does frequent voice-over work in animation, including Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” and “Cars.”

Goodman has been just as active in TV, where he is best known for his long-running role as Dan Conner in “Roseanne” (1988-97 and 2018) and now “The Conners.” He also had regular roles on Amazon’s “Alpha House” (2013-14) and HBO’s “Treme” (2010-11), and played memorable recurring characters on such shows as “West Wing,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Damages,” and “Community.” 

Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Awards

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

Jim Finn

Jim Finn with headphones on

St. Louis native Jim Finn — whose “The Drunkard’s Lament” screens at this year’s SLIFF — makes playful experimental films that have been variously described as “Utopian comedies” and “trompe l’oeil films.” The New York Times writes: “Steeped in the obsolete language of revolutionary art, Mr. Finn’s meticulous, deadpan mockumentaries often play like unearthed artifacts from an alternate universe.”

Finn’s films have screened at international, avant-garde, and underground film festivals such as Rotterdam, Validivia, Sundance, and Edinburgh and at museums, universities, cinematheques, and microcinemas. His “Communist Trilogy” — “Interkosmos” (2006), “La Trinchera Luminosa del Presidente Gonzalo” (2007), and “The Juche Idea” (2010) — is in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. His three “Inner Trotsky Child” videos premiered each year from 2013-15 at the New York Film Festival.

Finn teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Jane Gillooly

Director/producer/editor Jane Gillooly grew up in Ferguson, Mo., and her newest film, “Where the Pavement Ends” — which screens at the fest — explores the divided cities of Kinloch and Ferguson.

Gillooly is a Guggenheim Fellow and has had one-person screenings/exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Art of the Real, and Film Society of Lincoln Center. Other honors include Best International Film at IMAGES Festival in Toronto and numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the LEF Foundation Moving Image Award.

Recent work includes “Suitcase of Love and Shame” (2013), a blended narrative of invented images and archival sound. A companion piece, “Audience of Love and Shame” (2015), was commissioned by the Museum of the Moving Image. A two-shot film of an audience watching “Suitcase of Love and Shame,” it uses the audio from the original. A podcast version of this work, which incorporates material that was omitted from the film, was released through Public Radio International.

Gillooly’s other films include “Leona’s Sister Gerri” (1995), “Dragonflies, the Baby Cries” (2000), and “Today the Hawk Takes One Chick” (2008).

Gillooly is the chair of the Media Arts Department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

Karyn Kusama

Karyn Kusama — a former St. Louisan whose “Destroyer” opens the fest — recently helmed the critically acclaimed psychological suspense thriller “The Invitation” starring Michiel Huisman and Logan Marshall-Green. The film, which explores the potentially sinister interactions of a group of old friends gathered for a dinner party, premiered to rave reviews at SXSW in 2015 and won the Grand Prize at the Sitges Film Festival. She also directed “Her Only Living Son,” a segment of the all-female-directed horror anthology “XX,” which debuted at Sundance in 2017.

Kusama broke out in 1999 with her debut feature film, “Girlfight,” which she both wrote and directed. The film earned the Grand Jury Prize and Director’s Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and the prestigious Prix de la Jeunesse (Award of Youth) at the Cannes Film Festival. Kusama followed “Girlfight” with the science-fiction love story “Aeon Flux” for Paramount Pictures and the comedy-horror film “Jennifer’s Body” (written by Diablo Cody) for Twentieth Century Fox.

In addition to film, Kusama is an in-demand TV director. She has brought her obsessive eye for detail to shows like AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle,” and Showtime’s “Billions.”

Contemporary Cinema Award

Previous winners of the Contemporary Cinema Award — which honors filmmakers in mid-career doing challenging, innovative work — include Jay and Mark Duplass, Alex Gibney, Trent Harris, Stanley Nelson, Arsen Anton Ostojic, Doug Pray, Marco Williams, and Terry Zwigoff.

Jason Reitman

Jason Reitman is an Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker whose new film, “The Front Runner” — which he co-wrote and directed — screens at SLIFF.

Reitman made his feature-film debut with the 2006 Sundance hit “Thank You For Smoking.” He notably earned Academy Award® nominations for directing “Juno” and the St. Louis-shot “Up in the Air,” with the latter earning Reitman a Golden Globe Award, WGA Award, and BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay. His other films include “Young Adult,” “Labor Day,” “Men, Women and Children,” and “Tully,” his third collaboration with Diablo Cody and second with Charlize Theron.

Reitman has produced three seasons of the Hulu comedy series “Casual” through his Right of Way Films. He also executive-produced the Academy Award®-winning film “Whiplash” and the Jean-Marc Vallee-directed “Demolition” through the production company.

Women in Film Award

Previous winners of the Women in Film Award — which honors women who have made a significant contribution to the film industry — include Karen Allen, Nina Davenport, Pam Grier, Barbara Hammer, Marsha Hunt, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Katie Mustard, Rosemary Rodriguez, Ry Russo-Young, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, Kimberly Steward, Yvonne Welbon, and Pamela Yates.

Melanie Mayron

Melanie Mayron — whose “Snapshots” is featured at SLIFF — has directed such feature films as “Slap Her, She’s French!” and “The Baby Sitters Club” and, for TV, “Mean Girls 2,” “Freaky Friday,” and “Toothless.”

Mayron has also brought her directing expertise to such television shows as “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix) with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, “Jane the Virgin” (The CW), “In Treatment” (HBO), “Tell Me You Love Me” (HBO), “Pretty Little Liars” (Freeform), “GLOW” (Netflix), “SEAL Team” (CBS), and “Reverie” (NBC).

Mayron has been just as successful on the other side of the camera as an actress, winning an Emmy Award for her role as Melissa in the critically acclaimed “thirtysomething.” She starred in the films “Girlfriends,” “Missing,” and “Sticky Fingers” and appeared in “Car Wash” and “My Blue Heaven.” On TV, Mayron has guest-starred in many shows, including “Lipstick Jungle,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and currently “Jane the Virgin.”


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


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: An American Tragedy, Day One, Intelligent Lives, Parallel Love, The Providers

Narratives: Dede, Eternal Winter, Memoir of War, No Date, No Signature, Un Traductor

The selection committee was Delcia Corlew (head), 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 Emre Şarbak, VP of technology and operations at LaunchCode.

The documentary jury is Janet Herrmann; Jane Hoeltzel, former drama teacher, actor, and artist; and Pat Scallet, filmmaker and editor.

The narrative jury is Greg Hoeltzel, Cinema St. Louis board member, orthodontist, and musician; Dr. Sandra Olmsted, Ph.D., freelance producer and editor for HEC-TV; Joya Uraizee, associate chair of the Department of English and associate professor of English and International Studies at Saint Louis University.

Midrash St. Louis Film 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 Midrash jury is 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; Aditya Siram, SLIFF volunteer and pop-culture gadfly; and Taylor Reynolds, historian, cultural critic, and writer.

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: Farmer of the Year, Parallel Chords, Point Man, Saviors, They Are Strangers

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 Christina Kallas (head), director of “The Rainbow Experiment” (which screens at this year’s fest) and “42 Seconds of Happiness” (NFF film in SLIFF 2016); Diane Carson, professor emerita of film at St. Louis Community College at Meramec and film critic for KDHX; LaShana Lewis, founder/owner of L.M. Lewis Consulting: Diversity St. Louis and co-founder of QFest; Joshua Ray, contributor to Cinema St. Louis’ The Lens film blog; and Andrew Wyatt, contributor to The Common Reader and St. Louis Magazine, and editor of Cinema St. Louis’ The Lens film blog.

Shorts Awards

Two juries choose the winners of the 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 Picture 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 Angela Hochman, actress, host, award-winning filmmaker, private acting coach, and co-creator of the show “Your St. Louis”; Melissa Howland, LA editor for We Are Movie GeeksChris Sagovac, associate professor of animation at Webster University and CEO of the independent animation studio Mountain of Knives; Christina Steenz Stewart, associate editor for Lion Forge Comics and artist of “Archival Quality,” published by Oni Press in 2018; Mary C. Taylor, animator and illustrator at Flipt Pictures; Andy Triefenbach, owner and editor-in-chief of and programmer of the Late Nite Grindhouse series;Kenya Vaughn, journalist with St. Louis American and; and David Wraith, writer, filmmaker, activist, and co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis.

The documentary-shorts jury is Leigh Kolb, film critic for New York Magazine’s Vulture website; Ben Scholle, professor of digital cinema arts at Lindenwood University; and Darian Wigfall, owner of the FarFetched music collective and an active member of the St. Louis community.

Spotlight on Inspiration Documentary Award

Sponsored by The Albrecht Family

This year, SLIFF inaugurates this juried competition, which awards a $5,000 prize to a feature documentary that focuses on people working to make the world a better place and that inspires audience members and leaves them with a sense of hope for the future.

Films: Day One, Intelligent Lives, Inventing Tomorrow, Personal Statement, The Providers, The Push, The Pushouts, Stay Human

The jury is Frank Popper (head), director of “Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?” and co-director of “Gentlemen of Vision”; Barry Albrecht, partner with the Bodley Group and director of the Albrecht Family Foundation; Stefene Russell, former culture editor of St. Louis Magazine; Ranell Shubert, education programs manager for the International Documentary Association; and Orlando V. Thompson, moviemaker and photographer.

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 of St. Louis film critics. SLIFF chose eight films to compete in each category:

Documentaries: Black Memorabilia, Chasing Portraits, General Magic, A Girl Named C, Letter from Masanjia, Parallel Love, The Sentence, Where the Pavement Ends

Narratives: The Captain, Five Fingers for Marseille, The Great Buddha +, Heaven Without People, The Rainbow Experiment, Sicilian Ghost Story, A Trip to the Moon, Yamasong: March of the Hollows

The documentary jury is Tom Stockman (chair), We Are Movie Geeks; Martha Baker, KDHX;Dan Buffa, KSDK and KFNS; and Diane Carson, KDHX.

The narrative jury is Jim Batts (chair), We Are Movie Geeks; Cate Marquis, We Are Movie Geeks and St. Louis Jewish Light; Jim Tudor, and; and Lynn Venhaus, Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS.