2023 SLIFF Awards

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, 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, longtime Cinema St. Louis chair Kim Tucci, and former executive director Cliff Froehlich.

Rick Goldsmith 

Rick Goldsmith is a San Francisco Bay Area filmmaker who has been making documentaries for four decades. Stripped for Parts: American Journalism on the Brink is the third of his trilogy of films focusing on journalism, following Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press (1996) and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009), both Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary Feature and numerous other awards. Both films had national broadcasts on PBS and are staples at journalism schools around the country.

Reginald Hudlin 

Oscar, and Emmy nominated director and producer Reginald Hudlin is one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation. Hudlin’s first feature film was House Party, which was recently inducted into the National Film Registry.  Hudlin also directed Boomerang with Eddie Murphy, Marshall with Chadwick Boseman and the award-winning documentaries The Black Godfather and Sidney. In addition, Hudlin produced the Oscar-Winning Django Unchained and the animated hit Bebe’s Kids.

Barbara Kopple 

Barbara Kopple is a New York based Director, Producer and founder of the production company Cabin Creek Films. Over her prolific career Barbara has worked on documentaries, scripted films, episodic television and commercials. She is a two-time Academy Award Winner for Harlan County, USA and American Dream, both of which won Best Documentary Feature. 

Alexander Payne 

Alexander Payne has made eight feature films — Citizen Ruth (1996), Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), Nebraska (2013), Downsizing (2017), and his newest, The Holdovers. Election co-starred the late Jessica Campbell, who grew up in Webster Groves. His films have been nominated for a total of 19 Oscars – including three times each for Best Picture and Best Director. He has won twice for Best Adapted Screenplay. Alexander is currently at work on a new volume of poetry.  His first, Shadings and Shadowings, was published in 1991 and translated into 11 languages.


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, Melanie Mayron, Katie Mustard, Rosemary Rodriguez, Ry Russo-Young, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, Kimberly Steward, Yvonne Welbon, Pamela Yates, and Lisa Cortés.

Signe Baumane 

Signe Baumane is a Latvian-born, Brooklyn-based independent filmmaker, artist, writer, and animator. She has made 17 award-winning animated shorts but is best known for her first animated feature Rocks in my Pockets


Spotlight on Inspiration

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 jury is Barry Albrecht (chair), partner with the Bodley Group and director of the Albrecht Family Foundation; Bobby Herrera, award-winning writer/director of feature film, documentary, and branded content; Melissa Howland, freelance film critic and MS advocate in Los Angeles, California; Nicholas Rousseau, producer at HEC Media, 2023 Mid-America Emmy Award winner and a former intern at Cinema St. Louis; and Lynelle White, television writer and award-winning short film director.

Winning film: Into the Spotlight, directed by Thaddeus D. Matula


New Filmmakers Forum

SPONSORED by Holmes, Radford, and Reynolds

The New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Directors competition is SLIFF's longest-running juried award. Its core mission is to spotlight and highlight first-time narrative feature filmmakers whose works truly stand out. They are, as a group, wildly different in tone, style, and personality, as are the five competition directors, but the confidence in their storytelling makes us believe that no matter who wins, each of them are filmmakers of tomorrow.

Films: I Think I’m Sick, I’m Okay We’re Okay, Late Bloomers, The Shade, Tokyo Cowboy

The jury is Merlin Bell, founder and CEO of Poplar Institute for Film and a creative professional who has offered experience working in content management and production leveraging a passion for culture and the arts; Lela Meadow-Conner, creative producer and the founder of mama.film, a village at the crossroads of art & advocacy where storytellers, changemakers and nurturers come together to champion humanity through a maternal gaze; and Nardeep Khurmi, award-winning writer and director based in Los Angeles. His debut feature, Land of Gold, was the grand prize winner of the 2021 AT&T Untold Stories program, premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Festival, and won the 2022 New Filmmakers Forum "Bobbie" Award.

Winning Film: Tokyo Cowboy, directed by Marc Marriott


St. Louis Film Critics Association 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: Bad Press, Black Barbie, Chasing Chasing Amy, Ellis, The Herricanes, Omoiyari, With Peter Bradley, Your Fat Friend

Narratives: 20,000 Species of Bees, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, Glitter & Doom, Miranda's Victim, Perfect Days, Robot Dreams, Thunder, and Till Love Do Us Part

The documentary jury is Stephanie Raven, past member of the STL Film Critics Association, PopLifeStL.com contributor and certified movie junkie; Jim Tudor, Zeke.film, President of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, and adjunct instructor of film studies at Webster University; and Lynn Venhaus, Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic who reviews for the Webster-Kirkwood Times, KTRS Radio, and PopLifeSTL.com website. She is an approved member of Critics Choice Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and St. Louis Film Critics Association.

The narrative jury is Jim Batts, reviewer for We Are Movie Geeks, avid media collector, and celebrity caricature artist; Cate Marquis, film critic and historian, co-founder, past president, and current member of St. Louis Film Critics Association, member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Rotten Tomatoes' TomatoMeter-Approved Critic, reviewer for We Are Movie Geeks, St. Louis Jewish Light, and Alliance of Women Film Journalists; and Alex McPherson, unabashed pop culture nerd, member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, and reviewer for Pop Life STL.

Winning Films - 

Narrative: Robot Dreams, directed by Pablo Berger
Documentary: Chasing Chasing Amy, directed by Sav Rodgers


Oscar-Sanctioned Shorts Competition

A juried competition that awards prizes in seven categories. SLIFF’s narrative and documentary shorts competition is one of 63 officially sanctioned festivals by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences worldwide. 

Winning Films - 

  • Best Documentary Short - Earthbound: Nzambi Matee, directed by Farhoud Meybodi

  • Documentary Short Honorable Mention - Trinkhalle, directed by Alexa Ramthun

  • Best Short Short - Fár, directed by Gunnur Martinsdóttir Schlüter

  • Best International Short - Al Niente, directed by Lo Lam

  • Best Local Short - Shadow Work, directed by Lorenzo Bradford

  • Best Live Action Short - In the Garden of Tulips, directed by Julia Elihu

  • Best Animated Animated - A Kind of Testament, directed by Stephen Vuillemin

  • Best Of Fest - 27, directed by Flora Anna Buda


Audience Choice Awards

More than 4,000 ballots were cast by SLIFF audiences to choose their favorite films!

Winning Films - 

  • Best International Film, Mother, directed by Zornitsa Sophia

  • Leon Award for Best Documentary Film, Your Fat Friend, directed by Jeanie Finlay

  • Best Film, Kemba, directed by Kelley Kali