SLIFF 2009 Preview | Adrienne Jones

sliff_sm.jpgCertain things will always remind me of fall, including sitting in a darkened theater surrounded by strangers and watching a movie I may never have heard of.







Certain things will always remind me of fall. The way the leaves go from green to gold to a fallen, dusty brown. That very particular, warm scent given off by the heater as it raises the temperature in my house for the first time in several months. Sitting in a darkened theater surrounded by strangers and watching a movie I may never have heard of were it not for the St. Louis International Film Festival. Well, that time of year is certainly upon us again, and if you love movies, this year’s fest will surely have something to entertain you.

cloud-9.jpgThe 2009 festival is filled with small films where character studies are more important than fast-moving plots. Perfect examples of this are shown in two movies built around the lives of older women. The first film, Cloud 9 (11/14 Frontenac 9:30 p.m., 11/15 Frontenac 3 p.m.), offers up a view of life, love and sexuality rarely seen, and poses some interesting questions about those themes. Can you, for instance, after decades of living for other people, finally do what makes you happy without hurting the ones you care about? And once you get what makes you happy, can you still enjoy it if your loved ones do get hurt?

Adela (11/16 Frontenac 5 p.m., 11/21 Frontenac 1 p.m.), the second film, considers what aging is actually worth. Many people love the idea of living to a ripe, old age, but who would still want that if they knew their family and friends wouldn’t be around to support them? How do you make your supposed "golden years" enjoyable when the only things filling your days are loneliness and memories of a brighter past?

Lest you think the festival has little to offer those who identify with younger generations, there are tales for the Xs, Ys and Zs among us. Isolation and loneliness aren’t necessarily only problems for those over 60. Spooner (11/14 Tivoli 7:15 p.m.) tells the story of a stilted man-boy who has his unrewarding life shaken up by the sudden appearance of the woman of his dreams. This is a movie about changing, even when you didn’t realize you needed to.

Gigante (11/15 Frontenac 3:15 p.m., 11/17 Frontenac 3 p.m.) may not be about change, but it is about finding the person who makes your days worth the effort, even though she barely knows you exist. The quiet man at the center of this film develops an obsession with a coworker that turns his pedestrian life upside down as he becomes ever more engrossed in her world. Gigante looks at what we might be driven to do when faced with something that unexpectedly gives our lives meaning.

marcello.jpgLonging for a member of the opposite sex who makes your heart sing is also the basis of Marcello, Marcello (11/19 Frontenac 7:15 p.m., 11/20 Frontenac 7:15 p.m.). When a young man realizes that his childhood love has returned to their hometown, he sets about to woo her and win her powerful father’s approval. His resulting visits with fellow townspeople tell us a lot about how determined people are to hold onto their pasts, however painful they may be.

Someone else living in the aching hurt of their personal history is the private detective at the center of The Missing Person (11/19 Frontenac 4:45 p.m., 11/20 Frontenac 9:30 p.m.). While working a case that takes him across the country, into Mexico and back, we get gradual clues to the reason behind his disconnection from society and even his own, current life. When you’ve been hurt as bad as he has, how exactly do you make your way back into the world of the living after years of checking out?

The family at the center of Amreeka (11/15 Hi-Pointe 1 p.m.) can’t afford to check out of life. As recent immigrants from Palestine, new and sometimes confusing experiences wait around every corner. Here’s an instance where getting what you want can be way more than you bargained for. | Adrienne Jones

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