Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight

Sponsored by Mary Strauss

Directed by Isidore Bethel & Francis Leplay

When his older boyfriend loses interest in him, filmmaker Isidore Bethel looks for a way forward.…

Directed by Lucy Harvey & Danielle Kummer

“Alien on Stage” tells the unlikely story of a unique crew of Dorset bus drivers whose amateur dramatics…

Directed by Joshua Altman & Bing Liu

Chicago gun violence has made national headlines for decades. While the city responds with aggressive…

Directed by Eric Bricker

During these locked-down pandemic times, we all can appreciate an ode to the open road, and “Alumination”…

Directed by John J. Valadez

Brothers Manuel and Valente Valenzuela both volunteered and fought in Vietnam. Now, 50 years later, they…

Directed by Daniel A. Nelson & Natalie Pattillo

“And So I Stayed” offers a moving profile of three domestic-violence survivors who served steep prison…

Directed by Margaret Byrne

A stellar documentary from SLIFF alum Margaret Byrne (“Raising Bertie”), “Any Given Day” follows a trio of…

Directed by Felix Dufour-Laperrière

The animated essay film “Archipelago” is partly documentary but mostly fiction, with poetry perhaps the…

Directed by Libby Spears

“The Art of Rebellion” follows blunt, sarcastic, but ultimately lovable Lydia Emily — an LA-based street…

Directed by Andy Cohen & Gaylen Ross

“Beijing Spring” tells a story about underground filmmaking, radical art, and censorship that’s…

Directed by Susan Hagedorn

Some 50 years before BLM  and March for Our Lives — before computers, cell phones, and Facebook — priests…

Directed by Judith Ehrlich

As the war in Vietnam raged, one of the largest and most successful youth-led resistance movements in…

Directed by John Maggio

“A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks” explores the power of images in advancing racial, economic…

Directed by Rex Miller & Sam Pollard

“Citizen Ashe” is the story of sports legend and social activist Arthur Ashe. Known to most by his stellar…

Directed by Andrea Arnold

A documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Andrea Arnold (“American Honey,” “Fish Tank,” “Red Road”), “Cow” is…

An anthology of shorts exploring the biggest issues in the United States today.
An examination of the life and conservation of animals across the globe.
A program that captures the wisdom, the humor, and the pain that comes with age.
Glimpses of labor in its many forms and the sense of catharsis it can bring.
Harrowing stories of coming and going — by choice, by force, or by necessity.
Shorts that examine the impact of the most significant current events facing our modern world.
An exploration of the challenges and experiences of real people living with a disability.
A sampler of films from students in the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the Missouri…
True stories of the inequities that permeate throughout the justice system at large.
A collection of fascinating exposés that unearth surprising stories about some of the most recognizable…
Children are the future, and their present experiences captured in these shorts demonstrate what that future…
Directed by Mo Scarpelli

“El Father Plays Himself” chronicles expat filmmaker Jorge Thielen Armand’s return to Venezuela to make a…

Directed by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu

How does a father find purpose in pain? In 2014, Michael Brown Sr.’s son was killed by White police…

Directed by Inés Toharia

Why are we still able to watch moving images captured more than 125 years ago? As we move ever further…

Directed by Timothy Breitbach

"The Final 19" tells the harrowing true story of Sgt. Dan Hefel, one of the final 19 prisoners of war to…

Directed by Christopher Chambers

“A Fire Within” documents a U.S. court case brought by a trio of Ethiopian women against the man who…

Directed by Brandon Kramer

“The First Step” — directed by SLIFF alum Brandon Kramer (“City of Trees”) — explores the divisions within…

Directed by Matthew Heineman

Directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land,” “City of Ghosts…

Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen

“Flee” — winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Documentary section — tells the story…

Directed by Gordon Quinn & Leslie Simmer

Co-directed by SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gordon Quinn, “For the Left Hand” profiles Norman…

Directed by Pat McGee

Running in the 2020 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell, Charles Booker…

Directed by Tommy Haines

In Minnesota’s unforgiving North Country, a tradition of grit has been forged in the mines and on the ice…

Directed by Jordy Sank

Ella is not your average 98-year-old. Her magnetic personality makes her past even more surprising. “I Am…

Directed by John Clayton Doyle

An offbeat, heartwarming portrait of the world’s least likely rock star, this documentary-narrative hybrid…

Directed by Benjamin Schwartz

“Into the Light” profiles painter Chuck Connelly, who received serious critical and commercial attention…

Directed by T.J. Parsell

Growing up gay in the South is hard enough, but to be an openly gay woman in country music is nearly…

Directed by Julie Cohen & Betsy West

“Julia” — directed by Julie Cohen and Betty West, who also helmed the Oscar-nominated “RBG” — brings to…

Directed by William T. Horner & Stacey Woelfel

A moving biopic of Pedro Zamora, “Keep the Cameras Rolling”  — co-directed by Mizzou professors William T…

Directed by Alana Marie

Kinloch is a town on life support, with fewer than 200 citizens still residing in the area, a budget…

Directed by Cody Stokes

“Magic in the Mountains” tells the remarkable underdog story of how Squaw Valley, a little-known ski area…

Directed by Paul Michael Angell

“Medicine Man” recounts the incredible life story of Stan Brock, a British-born Amazonian cowboy turned U.…

Directed by Jeff Bemiss & Lisa Molomot

“Missing in Brooks County” provides a clear-eyed, heartbreaking look at the deadly cost of the U.S.’s…

Directed by Peggy Callahan & Louie Psihoyos

“Mission: Joy” — co-directed by Oscar winner Louie Psihoyos (“The Cove”) and Peggy Callahan — provides…

Directed by David Dufresne

Journalist David Dufresne’s first documentary is a devastatingly timely investigation of the place of…

Directed by Therese Shechter

In “My So-Called Selfish Life,” filmmaker Therese Shechter examines an oft-undiscussed social taboo: women…

Directed by CJ Hunt

Smart, funny, and thoughtful about issues of race in America, “The Neutral Ground” follows comedian and “…

Directed by Angelo Madsen Minax

After the death of his infant niece, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown…

Directed by Leah Galant & Maya Cueva

Although set in McAllen, at Texas’ southern tip in the Rio Grande Valley, the film doesn’t deal with…

Directed by Eric Daniel Metzgar

A hybrid of animation and live action, “A Once and Future Peace” provides an engrossing exploration of…

Directed by Aaron Hosé

“One Pint at a Time” — a feature expansion of the short “A Fresh Perspective,” which screened at last year…

Directed by Robert Greene

In “Procession,” six men from Kansas City, Mo. — all survivors of childhood sexual assault at the hands of…

Directed by Alexander Liu

Filmmaker Alex Liu, a 36-year-old gay man who grew up with years of sexual shame, hits the road to learn…

Directed by Abraham Lim

SLIFF viewers with long memories will recall Abraham Lim’s first work as a director, “Roads and Bridges,”…

Directed by Gilda Sheppard

“Since I Been Down” follows a group of prisoners as they break free from their fate and create a model of…

Directed by Van Maximilian Carlson

Former New Filmmakers Forum winner Van Maximilian Carlson (2019’s “Princess of the Row”) returns to SLIFF…

Directed by Pernille Rose Groenkjaer

“Solutions” offers important insight into the visions and concrete ideas that will pave the way for…

Directed by Ivaylo Getov & Jeremy Ungar

In 2017, the Vocal Vidas, an all-female Cuban quartet, were invited to perform their first show in America…

A selection of standout documentaries, some experimental in form, from the 2021 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.
Directed by Damien D. Smith

“Target: St. Louis Vol. 1” serves as a valuable history lesson with sadly continuing relevance. The film…

Directed by Pamela Tanner Boll & Lindsay Richardson

Climate change is huge, scary, and highly politicized, and the relentless bad news can prove overwhelming…

Directed by Max Lowe

On Oct. 5, 1999, legendary climber Alex Lowe was tragically lost in a deadly avalanche on the Himalayan…

Directed by Debbie Lum

“Try Harder!” offers an engaging portrait of five young adults as they navigate a quintessential rite of…

Directed by Deborah Riley Draper

In “Twenty Pearls” — deftly narrated by Phylicia Rashad — two-time SLIFF alum Deborah Riley Draper (“…

Directed by Anita Rivaroli

In the smart, joyous “We Are the Thousand,” a handful of Foo Fighters fans in Cesena, Italy, led by band…

Directed by Brad Lichtenstein

“When Claude Got Shot” follows the multi-year struggles of Claude Motley, a non-traditional-age Black law…

Directed by Emily Kunstler & Sarah Kunstler

Directed by Sarah and Emily Kunstler — who previously helmed the well-received “William Kunstler:…

Directed by Christi Cooper

An intelligent combination of civics lessons and environmentalism, Christi Cooper’s “Youth v. Gov” tells…

Directed by Thomas Verrette

“Zero Gravity” follows a diverse group of middle-school students from San Jose, Calif., who compete in a…