SLIFF 2010 Preview | Adrienne Jones

Growing up and finding yourself are two subjects filmmakers love to explore, so the festival gets a healthy dose of all that.

 

 

 

When a chill finally hits the air after the long, arduous days of summer, we know it means that the St. Louis International Film Festival will soon be on its way. Festivals like ours are a great place to see the small, character-driven films that might play in New York and Los Angeles but skip right over the middle of the country.
One such character study that’s a standout for me is Nurse. Fighter. Boy. (11/15 Frontenac 2 p.m.; 11/16 Frontenac 4:30 p.m.). I don’t know if you’ll be able to find a more meditative film at this year’s festival. The sparse dialogue, anecdotal images and smattering of music bring viewers into this story of loneliness, second chances and loss in ways I never expected.
Loss is also a major theme in A Little Help (11/21 Hi-Pointe 4 p.m.). The young mother at the center of the story suffers a life-changing loss early in the film, but she lost her drive and identity long before that. This film also dares to ask what happens when you lose something you secretly no longer care about, while everyone around you expects you to be devastated?
Growing up and finding yourself are two subjects filmmakers love to explore, so the festival gets a healthy dose of all that, too. 1981 (11/20 Brown Hall 4 p.m.) looks at the pressure a young boy feels to fit in at his new school, and how it takes a while to realize that people aren’t always what they seem. Becloud (11/12 Winifred Moore 9:30 p.m.) moves away from adolescent anxieties to the often difficult decisions young adults make to shape their lives. How do you move forward when your past and your family stand in the way of your dreams?
Figuring yourself out is always easier when you don’t feel so alone. Leo’s Room (11/21 Tivoli 8:30 p.m.) is about a chance encounter that reconnects two former classmates, and opens up each of their lives. Room also looks at the horrible burden of trying to gain fulfillment while needing to forgive yourself and be forgiven. Is it possible to find the life you’re meant to live when you feel guilty for living at all?
Guilt makes an appearance in Bomber (11/12 Frontenac 4:30 p.m.; 11/14 Frontenac 9:15 p.m.) as well. An old Englishman’s trip to a small German town to apologize for a grievous mistake he made over 60 years ago turns into a twisted family road trip and leads to some revelations I certainly didn’t see coming.
It’s always a good thing when a film can surprise me, and Black, White & Blues (11/17 Tivoli 7:15 p.m.) did just that. What looks to be a standard-issue “getting back to your roots” road trip movie is really about much more. Deception may be at the heart of Chameleon (11/20 Frontenac 9 p.m.; 11/21 Frontenac 6:15 p.m.), but the lengths to which the lead character will go through to fool his multiple targets is shocking, as is the ending.
Doing right by others may be something that eludes the protagonist of Chameleon (11/20 Frontenac 9 p.m.; 11/21 Frontenac 6:15 p.m.), but at least he isn’t purposely leading others astray. Limbo Lounge (11/20 Tivoli 6:30 p.m.), however, is all about getting people to be the worst they can, as long as it benefits you.
Desperate times do sometimes call for desperate measures, though. The cash-strapped senior citizens at the heart of The End (11/12 Frontenac 2 p.m.; 11/18 Frontenac 9:30 p.m.) might take that axiom a bit too far with a crime spree through several counties. This film says a lot about how much you can get away with when people don’t expect much from you. | Adrienne Jones

 

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