On Thursday night, Alex Winter stepped back into the movie theater he frequented growing up in St. Louis...this time as an award-winning actor and director. He received the 2015 Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis award during the St. Louis International Film Festival in the main auditorium of the Tivoli Theatre in the Delmar Loop. His award-winning documentary, “Deep Web,” as well as his earlier documentary, “Downloaded,” are playing at the festival.
"Deep Web" is a feature-length documentary that explores the rise of the Silk Road, bitcoin and other aspects of the "dark web," an internet entity that requires special configurations to enter, communicate and trade. It is often thought of as the place where hackers, dissidents, hit-men, pornographers, and, sometimes, journalists collide.
"It was an online black market in the hidden corner of the internet...it primarily was used to move illegal drugs," said Winter. “The documentary follows the creator of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, to the shut-down of his portal and ultimate arrest, which just happened in May.
"I knew I wanted to tell a story from real-time in the digital world," Winter said. "I wanted to talk about things that were happening as they were happening. My movie is about the beginning of something, not the end of something. The Silk Road was the beginning of a type of technology that is just taking off now."
Winter lived in St. Louis from age 5-13, when his parents moved to the area and his father co-founded Mid-America Dance Company (MADCO) while his mother worked in the dance department at Washington University.
You may know him for playing Bill in the cult-classic “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” alongside Keanu Reeves, who is actually the narrator of "Deep Web." The movie will also screen at the festival on Friday night. He doesn't even mind if you accidentally call him Bill.
"It was annoying for about five minutes when it first started happening, and then I realized it was never going to stop and I got zen about it all," Winter said. "The funny thing about it is that the characters are so sweet that people who come up to you are generally so happy to see you, it is a piece of their childhood. I have friends who are known for playing villains and people don't treat them so nicely."
These film achievements are all well and good, but what you really should know from Winter's career is that it all started here in St. Louis.
"I began with stage work here in St. Louis, but my first professional acting job was under the Arch with the Colonel doing a Kentucky Fried Chicken advertisement," Winter said. "And then I was on the Muny stage with Vincent Price doing 'Oliver!'"
What: St. Louis International Film Festival Presents "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"
When: Friday, Nov. 6 at 9:45 p.m.
Where: Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63130
What: St. Louis International Film Festival Presents "Downloaded"
When: Saturday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Tivoli Theatre
“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, and Kelly Moffitt. The show is sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.