Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the managing and artistic director of Cinema St. Louis. What this title means is that Clark is the head guy, the Lebowski of the whole thing. His primary duties include the thankless task of searching the film universe for great films to add to our annual St. Louis International Film Festival. Chris attends other film festivals, meets with civic organizations, and tries to rustle up ongoing support of cinema in St. Louis.

In addition, Clark helps shape the year-round presence of Cinema St. Louis. He also assists local filmmakers in getting their films out there. PlaybackSTL recently chewed the fat with Chris Clark about—what else?—the movies.

You get to see films all year-round. How do you decide what films you think SLIFF patrons will enjoy?
I strive to see as many different types and styles of films from all countries, all over the world. I look for beautiful imagery and emotionally powerful storytelling. Films that make me laugh so hard it hurts and others that make me weep onto the sleeve of my shirt are automatic for the people.

What are the best and worst times you’ve had with the festival?
The worst nightmare was going to the airport to retrieve an opening-night film hours before it was to begin, only to discover that it hadn’t made it after all. The fact that the director had been a pushy jerk to me for weeks preceding this did not help my mood. The best times are always the same: seeing large crowds of people lining up in front of the Tivoli on opening night, justifying what I had been working feverishly on for the past whole year.

When you’re not tied up with film stuff, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to unwind at the beach, spend time with my nieces and nephews, and entertain at home. I also love bad television and watch a lot of SciFi Channel programming.

What films do you enjoy personally? Does your job make it harder to enjoy films you like?
I love outrageous comedies, heist films, and juicy period pieces. Although I see hundreds of films a year, I always have time for one more. A great perk of the job is seeing lots of studio press and sneak preview screenings, where I get to just be a spectator and don’t have to think of it in terms of my own programming. Kill Bill and Party Monster were recent guilty pleasures of mine.

Film lovers need caffeine and sustenance. Which type of each do you prefer?
I’m off coffee, so that’s out. While I like tea, it doesn’t seem proper at the movies. I usually stick with Coke or Mountain Dew as my soda beverage (Pepsi sucks), and for sustenance, I always enjoy handfuls of popcorn with some M&M’s added in.

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