2022 SLIFF Awards

31st Annual SLIFF | Nov. 3-13, 2022


Lifetime Achievement Award

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, John Goodman, 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; Mary Strauss, Joe Edwards; and longtime Cinema St. Louis chair Kim Tucci.


Cliff LAACliff Froehlich

Cliff Froehlich retired as executive director of Cinema St. Louis in June 2022. He oversaw a total of 19 film festivals while serving two stints as ED, from April 2001-March 2003 and from January 2006 until his retirement. In between his years at CSL, Froehlich worked as arts-and-entertainment editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Before joining Cinema St. Louis, Froehlich filled a variety of editorial roles (including executive editor) at The Riverfront Times, St. Louis’ alternative newsweekly, starting in May 1983 as a freelance film reviewer and moving to full-time editor status in August 1987. During four of his 18 years at the RFT, he simultaneously worked as managing editor of St. Louis Magazine, helping relaunch the publication. He continues to write on occasion for Washington U.’s The Common Reader and has freelanced for the RFT, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Magazine, St. Louis Jewish Light, and St. Louis Public Radio. Since 1984, Froehlich has served as an adjunct faculty member at Webster University, teaching courses in film history and criticism. For more than 20 years, he was associated with the Metro East Humane Society of Edwardsville, Ill., a nonprofit he helped found, serving as both board member and president. Froehlich recently rejoined the MEHS board. He holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an honors B.A. in political science from St. Louis University.



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

  • Best Film Award: “The Pink Lagoon,” directed by Juan Arce and Francisco Gallo
  • Leon Award for Best Documentary (named in memory of the late civic leader Leon Strauss): “Night Life,” directed by Seth Ferranti
  • Best International Film: “Memories of My Father,” directed by Fernando Trueba



NFF Emerging Director Award: The Bobbie

2022 Bobbie Award Winner: “Land of Gold,” directed by Nardeep Khurmi

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. 

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 Andrea Sporcic Klund (chair), Film Commissioner, Missouri Film Office; Joe Bilancio, Director of Programming, OUTshine Film Festival; Veronica Loncar, Artistic Director, Kansas City Film Festival; Katie McCullough, Film Festival Strategist & Founder, Festival Formula; and Lela Meadow-Conner, Creative Producer, Curator & Founder, Mama Film 



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

  • Best of Fest: “Ice Merchants,” directed by João Gonzalez
  • Best Animated Short: “Rosemary A.D. (After Dad),” directed by Ethan Barrett
  • Best Documentary Short: “Last Days of August,” directed by Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck
  • Best International Short: “All the Crows in the World,” directed by Yi Tang
  • Best Live Action Short: “In the Jam Jar,” directed by Colin Nixon
  • Best Local Short: “World Skin,” directed by Van McElwee
  • Best Short Short (less than 5 minutes): “Who is Syd?”, directed by Gabriel Hunter Sheets

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. 

Chris Aaron, filmmaker and assistant professor of film and animation at Webster University; Sarah Baraba, educator, writer, and co-owner of Arkadin Cinema & Bar; Lindsay Berkebile, a stop-motion animator and director for Adult Swim and projects such as “Robot Chicken,” “Super Mansion,” “Crossing Swords,” and “Psycho Psalms”; Drew Edelstein, communications specialist, and contributor to Cinema St. Louis' The Lens; Keith Watson, attorney, film critic, and co-owner of Arkadin Cinema & Bar. 

The documentary-shorts jury is Ben Scholle, documentary filmmaker and Senior Professor of Cinema Arts at Lindenwood University; Leigh Kolb, assistant professor of English and journalism and freelance writer for outlets such as Vulture and Women and Hollywood; Darian Wigfall, founder of St. Louis art and music imprint FarFetched.



Sponsored by The Albrecht Family

This juried competition 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.

The 2022 Spotlight on Inspiration Documentary Award: “Of Medicine and Miracles,” directed by Ross Kauffman

The jury is Barry Albrecht (chair), partner with the Bodley Group and director of the Albrecht Family Foundation; Katie Carter, film critic at katieatthemovies.com; Novotny Lawrence, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and the English Department at Iowa State University, author of Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre, co-editor of Beyond Blaxploitation, and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Popular Culture; Colin O'Brien, St. Louis-based theater, concert, and event producer; Kenya Vaughn, journalist, film critic, and St. Louis American contributing editor; David Wraith, a Saint Louis native writer, filmmaker, sex educator, activist, and co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis.




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:

The Joe Williams Best Documentary Feature: “Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West,” directed by Ashley Avis
The Joe Pollack Best Narrative Feature:
“Holy Spider,” directed by Ali Abbasi

The documentary jury is Lynn Venhaus (chair), Martha Baker, KDHX Radio; and Jim Tudor, Zekefilm

The narrative jury is Jim Batts (chair), We Are Movie Geeks; Max Foizey, KTRS Radio and ZekeFilm; Cate Marquis, We Are Movie Geeks and St. Louis Jewish Light; and Alex McPherson, PopLifeSTL.com