SLIFF 2008 Preview

film_sliff_sm.jpgAs usual, no matter what you fancy when the theater lights go down, this years’ festival has something for you.







The St. Louis International Film Festival has always managed to bring a wealth of movies to our fair city. Small films that’ll go barely seen easily share billing with highly touted indies and films with major stars. And, as usual, no matter what you fancy when the theater lights go down, this years’ festival has something for you.

If you’re looking to make sure the festival experience showcases homegrown talent, look no further than Advertising for the Mob (Tivoli, 11/21, 9:15 p.m.) and Say Goodnight (Tivoli, 11/20, 9:45 p.m.). The former film is a primer on how not to respond to job loss, while Say Goodnight details some of the thrills and disappointments of trolling the bar scene.

Stories that detail longings of one kind or another are quite popular on this year’s roster. In Late Bloomers (Frontenac, 11/14, 2:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.), a group of elderly women finally begin to live their dreams despite the ridicule of their small-minded neighbors. Nights and Weekends (Tivoli, 11/21, 9:45 p.m.) details the trials of a long-distance couple trying to make their relationship work. Ben X (Frontenac, 11/21, 2 p.m. and 11/22, 12:15 p.m.) shows what happens when an autistic teen scorned by his peers decides to stop taking his torment lying down.

Loneliness, change, and the search for acceptance are natural human challenges, so they’re natural film themes. Days and Clouds (Frontenac, 11/21, 7 p.m. and 11/22, 9:15 p.m.), All for Free (Frontenac, 11/17, 4:45 p.m. and 11/20, 2:30 p.m.) and The Fish Fall in Love (Frontenac, 11/19, 12:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.) all chronicle coming to grips with unwanted change. And The Grocer’s Son (Frontenac, 11/16, 6:30 p.m. and 11/17, 7 p.m.) is the story of a young man who finds himself fighting the new person he’s becoming.

Meanwhile, Yeast (Tivoli, 11/14, 7:15 p.m.) shows a young woman so desperate for connection that she holds onto crappy friendships, and The Custodian (Frontenac, 11/20, 9 p.m. and 11/21, 4:45 p.m.) gives us a hard-working man tired of his career.

For those with film tastes that run more toward desperate struggles of survival, three films have just what you’re looking for. Blind Mountain (Frontenac, 11/14, 7 p.m.), about a young woman sold to a stranger in a strange village, could not be more harrowing or difficult to watch. The Bet Collector (Frontenac, 11/14, 2:30 p.m. and 11/20, 12:30 p.m.) tells the tale of a family matriarch using illegal means to keep her family afloat. And Kept & Dreamless (Frontenac, 11/14, 4:45 p.m. and 11/19, 2:30 p.m.) presents a strong-willed little girl coping with her mom’s dysfunctional and destructive lifestyle.

Looking to try something different? The relationship stories of A Good Day to Be Black and Sexy (Tivoli, 11/17, 9:30 p.m.,) and Bunny Chow (Frontenac, 11/19, 4:30 p.m. and 11/21, 2:30 p.m.) will keep you on your toes. The Empire State Building Murders (Webster, 11/22, 4 p.m.) gets the audience reacquainted with good, old-fashioned mysteries using an interesting mix of classic and new footage.

If that’s not enough to sink your figurative film fangs into, there are two movies that will surely be in the running for most-talked-about-of-the-festival. The first is Amal (Frontenac, 11/16, 2 p.m.). This is the touching story of a kind rickshaw driver whose path crosses with a man that could change his life. Amal might not end the way you want it to, but it won’t be long before you realize that it ended exactly the way it should.

The second film is Skin (Frontenac, 11/16, 7 p.m.). Based on actual events, Skin is the story of a black girl born to white parents in apartheid South Africa. If you can forget the way her parents attempt to help the girl deal with her odd situation, but end up hurting and confusing her more, it will not be easy. │Adrienne Jones

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