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‘Summer in St. Louis,’ a reflection on love and revolution, brings home Berlin festival win

Câmi Thomas is the director and producer of "Summer in St. Louis."
Gregory Cross
Câmi Thomas is the director and producer of "Summer in St. Louis," which just won Best Super Short Drama at the Berlin Flash Film Festival.

"Summer in St. Louis” recently won Best Super Short Drama at the Berlin Flash Film Festival. The 91-second homage to the city features a poem written by St. Louis-based filmmaker Câmi Thomas, who also directed and produced the film.

“[The year] 2021 is going to go down in history for us locally,” Thomas said. “I mean, just so much change in the world, and in the city and in the country, mixed with the creative renaissance that happened this summer. I really wanted to archive that for myself and then share it with people.”

Thomas discussed “Summer in St. Louis” on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. She told host Sarah Fenske that the film’s evocation of the Bible’s Book of Revelations was intentional.

Gregory Cross
My Friends and I Made This
Papa Blankson served as director of photography for "Summer in St. Louis."

“The way I have experienced St. Louis, and being who I am — being a Black, queer woman from north county, from the Ferguson-Florissant area — I have lived a life that’s felt a lot like an apocalypse, or a revolution pending ... the brewing, the boiling-over feeling that I've just grown very used to,” she said. “St. Louis is in the space of very raw change in a way that feels like a revolution.”

The film is the latest creative work by Thomas’ production company, My Friends and I Made This. The company was previously known as For the Culture. Thomas said the name change followed a shift in the way she approached her work — and the amount of collaboration that goes into pieces like “Summer in St. Louis.”

“I don't want to make things for any particular audience, I want to make it with my people,” she said.

Câmi Thomas joins St. Louis on the Air

“The way Mvstermind approached that as a score came from his heart, the poem came from my heart… the visuals came from [Papa Blankson’s] heart, and then [Jazzy Kettenacker], who edited, that came from her heart,” Thomas continued. “And that's something completely different than how I used to approach my work.”

Those partnerships, Thomas said, are the main reason she continues to live and create in St. Louis, despite also now having a shared space with her partner in Los Angeles.

“This is the best place to create things,” she said of St. Louis. “By far, we have a community and a support system in the city that I've never seen anywhere else, so I don't plan on [leaving] anytime soon.”

Summer in St. Louis

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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