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.
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.

Courtes of Tony Nitko/Rustic Lantern Films

Local production company Rustic Lantern Films has recently released their debut movie called "Lake Windfall," about five friends on a camping trip that turns disastrous. 

(via Flickr/Teemu008)

Nearly 60 years ago this week, Washington University launched a 3-year, $20 million capital campaign – at the time, the second-largest by an American university.         

The fundraising effort included a short film called "The Second Century." Its director was Charles Guggenheim, who would later gain fame as a documentarian.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

"If it wasn't here, we wouldn't have anywhere to go."

About a dozen people mill around the small lobby of the Senate Theater in Elsberry, Mo., a little town about an hour north of St. Louis.

(via YouTube screen capture)

Filmmaker Phillip Andrew Morton returned to the north St. Louis County community of Spanish Lake in 2007 to find his boyhood home abandoned and his elementary school empty.

He decided to make a documentary to explore what had happened to his hometown, including the underlying causes of “white flight” from the area.

Called simply “Spanish Lake," the documentary is expected to be released this summer.

A sneak peak of the film will be shown at the Open/Closed and Shuttered Flim Fest in April.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman spoke with Morton and we have a summary of their conversation - and a trailer of the film - for you here.

(Screen captures/press kits/ compiled by Kelsey Proud/St. Louis Public Radio)

It’s been a good year for documentary films focused on issues in St. Louis and for local filmmakers. “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth,” about the urban housing complex of the 1950s and 60s; “Brick by Chance and Fortune,” which looks at St. Louis’ architectural heritage; “The Gray Seasons,” about a four-year span with the Saint Louis University women’s basketball team; and "Give a Damn?," the story of three St. Louisians who explore the issue of poverty across three continents; have all been popular at film festivals in 2011.

As part of St. Louis Public Radio’s series, “A Good Year”, Bill Raack spoke with Cliff Froehlich, the executive director of Cinema St. Louis. Here's a summary of their conversation: 

(via Flickr/Ryan Baxter Photography)

An upcoming film festival in suburban St. Louis will offer something a little bit different.

The filmmakers are all students in the Parkway School District. Their works will be shown April 27 at Logan College.

The shortest of the films are under a minute. One features a day in the life of a first-grader.

In another, a third-grader tells the story of bumping into a snake while bobbing in the water. He narrates the story while his pictures scroll across the screen.

(Flickr Creative Commons User John Steven Fernandez)

Film critics in St. Louis are getting a jump on the foreign journalists that decide the Golden Globe award winners. While the nominees for 2010 Globes will be announced tomorrow, the St. Louis Film Critics have announced their list today.

The St. Louis nominees for Best Picture are:

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network

Best Actor nominees are: