Film | St. Louis Public Radio

Film

It took several years for members of St. Louis' skating community to renovate the old St. Liborius church. A company called Hogan Street Partners owns the building; a nonprofit called Liborius Urban Arts Studios operates the space.
File photo | Provided | Ashley Seering

In recent years, St. Louisans have turned abandoned buildings into apartments, art galleries and restaurants.  But a grassroots effort has repurposed a north St. Louis space into a much more active venue.

Former St. Louisan Lynn Cohen plays Grandma in the film "The Pickle Recipe."
Provided | Jewish Film Festival

The St. Louis Jewish Film Festival is celebrating 22 years of cinema that explores historical and modern-day Jewish themes.

One of the 16 movies in this year’s schedule features an actor who influenced a generation of St. Louis theater professionals — and is also known for her role in “Sex in the City.”

Kansas City native Lynn Cohen stars in a comedy about the quest for a grandmother’s secret pickling formula.  Festival organizer Zelda Sparks said some St. Louisans may recognize Cohen from the local Jewish Community Center, where she directed youth theater in the 1970s.

A still from student film "Grieve" depicts a solemn young black man's face against a brick wall.
Provided by Washington University

As Washington University student Sagar Brahmbhatt went through training in the school’s Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling program, he was struck by the value of a fundamental emotion: grief.  Brahmbhatt learned that internalizing emotional pain without an outlet can be harmful and that grieving is healthy. 

“Once you do accept grief, although you do feel sad, you’re more at peace with it” he said.  “And eventually, once you go through the grieving process, you may get better.”

Jon Else, filmmaker and author of "True South," discussed the legacy of St. Louis filmmaker Henry Hampton with St. Louis on the Air on Wednesday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Filmmaker Henry Hampton grew up in segregated St. Louis, Richmond Heights to be specific, during the 1940s. He would go on to found a film production company called Blackside, Inc. in Boston. His company produced over 80 documentaries and other productions and most notably created “Eyes on the Prize.”

The 14-part documentary is considered one of the most influential and definitive documentaries about the 30 years encompassing what Americans call the civil rights movement era, from Emmett Till to the Black Panthers.

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

The "March March" during True/False Film Fest in 2016 includes the Papier-mâché-d heads of the festival's co-founders Paul Sturtz and David Wilson.
Courtesy Kelly Moffitt

In a “post-truth” era of “alternative facts,” the importance of media literacy, and questioning why different media is made the way that it is, has reemerged in American society.  

Such media literacy values are baked into True/False Film Fest, a four-day mid-Missouri festival devoted solely to documentary filmmaking. This year the festival will take place from March 2-5 and screen some 35 nonfiction films that urge audiences to define the line between real and fake.

Singaporean filmmaker Mabel Gan has brought a version of the International Children's Film Festival she started in Singapore to St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a new film festival in town, this time focused on films made by and for children. It is called the Big Eyes, Big Minds St. Louis International Children’s Film Festival and it is spearheaded by Singaporean filmmaker and festival director Mabel Gan.

“When I think of kids, I think of big eyes, big minds because they have bigger eyes and there is so much potential for their minds to grow,” Gan told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter on Monday’s program.

Children hold anti-rascist signs while standing on the lawn at a Ferguson related protest.
Provided by Lucas Alvarado Farrar

A local filmmaker aims to bring international audiences an authentic take on the protests that occurred in Ferguson two years ago after then-officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown.

Director Damon Davis’ documentary “Whose Streets” takes an unflinching look at the Ferguson protests from the position of protesters and activists.  The film debuts today at the internationally recognized Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. 

Bill Ferguson maintained his son's innocence for years.
Dream/Killer Film

A weekend selection at the 25th St. Louis International Film Festival tells a different side of a story you may have heard about before. The documentary “Dream/Killer” tracks Bill Ferguson on the quest to free his son, Ryan Ferguson, from jail after he was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery and sentenced to a 40-year jail term in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt.

Marlon West, who has worked on more than 13 Disney animated features, will return to St. Louis this week to recieve the Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
St. Louis International Film Festival

Marlon West can’t remember a time he wasn’t interested in film, and animation, in particular. After graduating University City High School, he attended Columbia College in Chicago, where he studied film and writing, then moved on to animate Encyclopedia Brittanica films, a Beastie Boys music video and even Michael Jackson’s "California Raisins" commercial.

Judi Hampton joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

When it premiered in 1987, the 14-hour documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” was the definitive story of the civil rights movement from 1954 to the mid-1980s.

Nearly 30 years later, the documentary series is making a resurgence due, in part, to the efforts of Judi Hampton, whose late brother, Henry Hampton, produced “Eyes on the Prize.” The Hamptons grew up in St. Louis and Judi Hampton continues to live in the area part time.

Mazy and Amber Gilleylen in their Overland living room which is also the classroom where Gilleylen has home-schooled her daughter since last fall.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

There are plenty of smart, happy 10-year-olds in St. Louis. But there’s only one Mazy Gilleylen.

Mazy loves typical kid stuff, like  singing, drawing and taking care of her pets. But she was living with a secret, and that meant life wasn't always this good. Telling the truth — with her family’s support — made things better, and made her a film star.

The documentary Major! features Major Griffin-Gracy, a long-time transgender activist.
Cinema St. Louis | Provided

When QFest debuted in 2008, its schedule of LGBT films was more about the “G” than any other letter. Few male or female characters were people of color.

But things are different now, according to Cinema St. Louis’ Chris Clark.

“The true minority of all, honestly, is white, gay men,” he said.

A still from William Morris' "Immediacy of Distance" shows, left to right, his grandmother Goldie Butler, cousin Dana Fox and aunt Lizzie Fox.
William Morris

A new experimental documentary provides a snapshot of what it was like to grow up in north St. Louis in the 1970s.

The project began when artist William Morris discovered in the basement of his family home 30 rolls of Super 8 movies, shot by his mother, Annie Morris. He paired them with original and existing music as well as audio interviews of her talking about growing up in a Mississippi sharecropping family in the 1930s and 40s.

Press Image courtesy of Kimberley French, 20th Century Fox

If you haven’t seen the “The Revenant,” nominated for 12 Oscars, you’ve probably heard about the mythologized performance of Best Actor-hungry Leonardo DiCaprio who went to great lengths to make his performance as the wild and ferocious frontiersman Hugh Glass believable.

Emma Clemenson on the right in the late 1990s with four cousins, all in their Christmas kimonas, singing "Sisters" from the movie "White Christmas." Singing along with the movie has been a family tradition for six decades.
Courtesy Mary Burke

For Mary Burke of Kirkwood, watching  the 1954 movie “White Christmas” is like Santa Claus and candy canes — a holiday tradition. Burke and her three sisters grew up in the 50s and 60s singing and dancing along with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. It’s something they never outgrew.

Curious Louis Holiday Movies illustration
Susannah Lohr

For Amber Hinsley of St. Charles, nothing says “Christmas” like huddling in the dark with dozens of strangers. In a movie theater, of course.

Images from St. Louis International Film Festival

This year St. Louis Public Radio is reviewing films from The St. Louis International Film Festival that relate to prominent issues facing our city.

In this installment, St. Louis Public Radio looks at films that offer a multitude of perspectives on race as it affects culture on a local, national and international scale: "Four Way Stop," "Goodbye Theresienstadt," "Finding Bosnia," "My Friend Victoria," "Korla!" and "Aram, Aram."

Here at St. Louis Public Radio we know our listeners rely on us for to provide context, quality storytelling, and deep dives into the characters behind today’s news. We’re applying this approach to bring you reviews from this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival organized by the issues facing St. Louis and the surrounding area.

Each day reviews will be organized by issue as explored in select films from the festival. These categories are not literal representations of how these topics manifest in St. Louis but maintain a broader look into the various perspectives we use to address these concerns.

Radioactive waste, racial injustice, murder mysteries and selling drugs on the internet are all topics for the screen in this year’s Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. According to festival Executive Director Cliff Froehlich, the two-week long run of screenings will be unlike previous efforts.

“It’s fairly overwhelming I have to admit. This is the largest festival we’ve ever mounted,” said Froehlich.

Wikimedia Commons

Happy Back to the Future Day!

It’s a little known fact about town that "Back to the Future" was the partial brainchild of St. Louis native Michael Robert “Bob” Gale.

In the movie, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, uses a DeLorean time machine to travel back in time where he meets his high-school parents. 

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
File photo | Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

This year, 26 St. Louis-produced films will appear alongside films from around the world at the St. Louis International Film Festival. The organization’s Artistic Director Chris Clark said quality, not just location, was the primary factor affecting what films would be included in the November programming.

“They are like top gun. They are the best of the best,” he said. “These are things that we would be proud to recommend and could stand toe to toe in other festivals anywhere.”

Filmmaker Ken Burns
Cable Risdon

From baseball and jazz to the Civil War and Prohibition, award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has had a long and varied career. The New York Times has called Burns “the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation.” 

Burns joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to talk about his career, upcoming projects and commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis on Friday.

From "Soko Sonko"
Washington University

The journey of finding yourself, the possibility of a pregnant man and a madcap trip to a hair stylist are all themes in this weekend’s African Film Festival at St. Louis’ Washington University.

Mike Rohlfing

Cinema St. Louis’ 2014 St. Louis Filmmaker's Showcase kicks off Sunday, July 13, and runs through Thursday, July 17.

Each year, Cinema St. Louis gets about 120 submissions from both professional and amateur filmmakers. Chris Clark, artistic director of the organization, says the most important criteria is whether the filmmakers have told a good story and told it in a cohesive way. 

Courtesy of The Archives of the University City Public Library

This year marks two anniversaries from St. Louis’ film history: it is the 90th anniversary of the Tivoli Theater, and the 70th anniversary of Meet Me in St. Louis, which is perhaps the film that most often comes to mind when St. Louis is mentioned. Though Meet Me in St. Louis was shot entirely outside of the city, many pictures, both before and after the Judy Garland classic, were filmed here. Today on St. Louis on the Air we discussed a few of them, and the people who contributed to the films we love.

(Amanda Honigfort/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Judy Garland classic Meet Me In St. Louis had its world premiere in St. Louis on Nov. 22, 1944, but it still draws a crowd. On May 2, the Missouri History Museum hosted a Meet Me in St. Louis film screening and sing-a-long in conjunction with the film’s 70th anniversary and their 250 in 250 exhibit. 

Listen to what the film means to some of the fans attending the sing-a-long:

Family photo

People who attend the Tivoli Theatre, the majestic edifice that has graced the University City Loop since 1924, expect certain things. They expect nostalgic surroundings. They expect to see movies with purpose. They expect to be greeted by John Thompson.

For the past 35 years, Mr. Thompson did not disappoint. He died Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. He was 74.

“It will be very sad the first time we walk through the doors (of the Tivoli) and John’s not there,” said Cliff Froehlich, executive director of Cinema St. Louis. “His absence will be very seriously felt.”

(Courtesy Cinema St. Louis)

Two of the film directors currently screening films at the St. Louis International Film Festival have closer ties than most to St. Louis. Peter Bolte and Brian Jun both grew up in the St. Louis region. Both are graduates of Webster University, and both shot their films on location in St. Louis and Southern Illinois.

(Courtesy Cinema St. Louis)

The 22nd Annual St. Louis International Film Festival begins November 14th. More than 300 films will be screened over a period of ten days.

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