SLIFF 2012 Day Two - CHAINED, A LATE QUARTET, and Much More - We Are Movie Geeks

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SLIFF 2012 Day Two – CHAINED, A LATE QUARTET, and Much More

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Last night was the kick-off with just one film, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, but today the real meat of the fest is served with films screening all day and all evening.  SLIFF’s main venues are the the Hi-Pointe Theatre, Tivoli Theatre, Plaza Frontenac Cinema, Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium, Washington University’s Brown Hall Auditorium and the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville, IL

The entire schedule for the 21st Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival be found HERE.

Here is what will be screening at The 21st Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival today, Friday, November 9th

CHAINED plays 7:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre with director Jennifer Lynch in attendance (read the WAMG interview with Ms Lynch HERE

At the end of an afternoon excursion, Sarah Fiddler and her young son step into a taxi to head home. They never get there. The cab belongs to Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), a taxi-driving serial killer. Re-christening the boy ‘Rabbit’ Bob forcibly adopts him and compels his ‘son’ to clean up after his crimes. In his own distorted way, Bob wants to be a good father  to raise a son who is well-prepared to succeed in the world. Bob, however, has an unusual definition of ‘success’: He fully expects Rabbit, now in his teens, to become a mass murderer. Director Jennifer Lynch (Surveillance) also participates in two free events on Nov. 10: a program about her upcoming Fall from Grace,-which she hopes to shoot in St. Louis, and a Q&A surveying her career (see Special Events).

Morgan Spurlock’s MANSOME

The documentary MANSOME by director Morgan Spurlock plays 9:30pm at the Tivoli Theatre

Surveying the facial hair of specimens ranging from Jack Passion, America’s greatest beardsman, to director Morgan Spurlock, who displays his own mustache, MANSOME stars Will Arnett and Jason Bateman take a hilarious look at men’s identity in the 21st century. Models, actors, experts, and comedians – including Zach Galifianakas, John Waters, Paul Rudd, and Adam Carolla – weigh in on what it is to be a man in today’s world. Guys’ idiosyncratic grooming habits are thoroughly combed over as men finally take a long hard look in the mirror. SLIFF also features Spurlock’s ‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope’. It’s shown with: CatCam (Seth Keal, U.S., 2012, 16 min. Whiskers of a different sort are featured in this short: When Mr. Lee, an adopted stray cat, routinely disappears from his South Carolina home for days on end, his owner creates a camera designed to fit around the feline’s neck.


THE PRIZE plays 1:30pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

 Under the cloud of a military dictatorship, a young mother and her daughter flee Buenos Aires for the seclusion of a ramshackle cottage along the windy dunes of an Argentine beach. As her mother listens for news from the radio with sad stoicism, restlessly curious 7-year-old Cecilia joins a nearby school overseen by a kindly teacher. Her childhood idyll, however, soon becomes contaminated by the general political crisis when the teacher has the class participate in a patriotic essay contest sponsored by the army – the very people who may have already disappeared Cecilia’s father. A superbly acted and engrossingly atmospheric drama about innocence in illicit times, ‘The Priz’ won the Silver Bear for Artistic Achievement at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival.


GREY MATTER plays at 3:45pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Set in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, this smartly self-referential film – the first feature ever directed by a Rwandan – describes the trials of a determined director named Balthazar (Herve Kimenyi) as he tries to produce his own first feature, The Cycle of the Cockroach. Balthazar’s trenchant drama, about a brother and sister dealing with the aftermath of genocide, finds no support from agencies only interested in funding policy-friendly films. As Balthazar presses on, borrowing recklessly from a loan shark, scenes from the film he’s attempting to make materialize on screen – a vision of horror and systematic madness that offers bracing insight into the nature of political violence. Grey Matter won the Best Actor award and earned a special jury mention for Best New Narrative Director at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

ROOM 514

ROOM 514 plays at 6:45pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

In this disturbingly realistic debut feature – which Variety calls “a triumph of low-budget filmmaking” a female investigator in the Israeli military is ordered to interrogate a senior officer who is alleged to have abused an Arab family. Her questioning is greeted with sarcasm by the accused commander, while her colleagues, including her lover, advise her to stop the case – it is too political, too complex, and too notorious. Instead, she continues her pursuit with dog-on-bone tenacity, eschewing the approval of her male superiors in favor of morality and justice for the victims. Unfortunately, her idealistic fight against the perceived abuse of power might have far-reaching consequences for everyone involved. “Room 514″ won the prize for Best New Narrative Director and received a Special Jury Mention at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.


BULLHEAD plays at 8:45pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANE MARTI HERE

Jacky Vanmarsenille, a surly, steroid-pumped cattle farmer from Limburg, is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from Jacky’s past set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences. A searing thriller about crime and punishment, fate, lost innocence, friendship, and conflicting desires, Bullhead was the official Belgian submission for the 2012 Academy Awards. Calling it “an intense, shattering film”, the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan declares “Bullhead – a confident and accomplished, punch-in-the-gut debut.”


Morgen plays at 1:45pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

In this sly Romanian comedy, Nelu works as a security guard at the local supermarket in a small town on the Romanian-Hungarian border, an area where many illegal emigrants try to cross to Western Europe. His days are all the same: fishing at dawn, then work, and finally home with his wife. Their main problem these days is repairing the old roof of their farmhouse. One memorable morning, Nelu finds his routine disrupted when he fishes something different out of the river: a Turkish man trying to cross the border. Nelu takes the stranger to the farmhouse and gives him some dry clothes, food, and shelter. Although unable to verbally communicate, the two somehow understand each other and form a unique bond. Morgen was the official 2012 Romanian Oscar submission.


LUCKY plays at 4:15pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

How could a recently orphaned, homeless 10-year-old South African boy ever be called Lucky? Over the grave of his dead mother, Lucky promises to make something of himself. Leaving the security of his remote Zulu village for the big city with the hope of going to school, he arrives on the doorstep of an uncle who has no use for him. Lucky instead turns to Padme, an elderly Indian woman. Despite her inherent fear of Africans, Padme takes Lucky in as she would a stray dog, and although unable to speak each other’s language, they develop an unlikely bond. Through an odyssey marked by greed and violence, Lucky shows how a child’s spirit can bring out decency, humility, and even love in adults struggling to survive. Variety calls the film “an emotionally resonant portrait of contemporary South Africa as well as a love story.”


SHUN LI AND THE POET plays at 7:00pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Shun Li, a young Chinese immigrant, leaves her job in a textile factory near Rome for a small town along the Venetian lagoon. She’s driven by one burning desire: to somehow get her papers and bring her young son from China to join her. The tavern where she works has always been the traditional meeting place of the local fishermen, including Bepi (Rade Serbedzija), known as The Poet, – a handsome old Slav fisherman who immigrated to Italy when he was just a youth. A tender, delicate bond grows between Shun Li and Bepi, and they begin a silent dialogue between their two cultures, which appear so different but prove not at all distant. Shun Li and the Poet won a trio of prizes at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.


SHORTS PROGRAM 1: ANIMATION 1 plays at 9:30pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Being Bradford Dillman
(Emma Burch, U.K., 2011, 10 min.): A mother and daughter’s relationship is shadowed by alcohol, loneliness, and a dislike of boys.
Bite of the Tail
(Song E. Kim, U.S., 2012, 9 min.): A woman suffering from stomach pain firmly believes that she can find cure from a snake.
Bradley Manning Had Secrets
(Adam Butcher, U.K., 2011, 6 min.): The story of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning as a young American soldier going through crises of conscience and identity.
Flawless Life
(Ozgul Gurbuz, Turkey, 2012, 4 min.): A homeless man offers his understanding of the flawless life.
Furnace Keep
(Gary Grant, U.S., 2011, 3 min.): A chronicle of self-imprisonment, reawakening, and liberation.
Hula Hoop
(Tess Martin, U.S., 2012, 2 min.): A girl with a hula hoop undergoes transformaton.
The Hunter
(Marieka Walsh, Australia, 2011, 7 min.): A lone hunter undertakes a search for a missing boy deep in the snow-covered mountains.
(Ron Williams, U.S., 2011, 4 min.): A musical about measles, mumps, and scary bumps, chills, pills, and doctor bills.
In Between Shadows
(Tianran Duan, U.S., 2012, 6 min.): The sun casts rays inside buildings, creating shadows that form inifinte spaces and mysterious structures.
(Mercedes & Rosa Peris Medina, Spain, 2011, 4 min.): A man and a woman uncover each other, taking off their skin as an intimate act.
(Juan Pablo Zaramella, Spain, 2011, 6 min.): In a world controlled by light, an ordinary man has a plan that could change the natural order of things.
Nightingales in December
(Theodore Ushev, Canada, 2011, 3 min.): There are no nightingales in December – only the history of our beginning and our end.
Phone Home
(Myles McLeod, U.K., 2012, 3 min.): The first phone call from Mars.
(Carmen Lloret, Spain, 2011, 3 min.): They long to take each other’s place.
(Dice Tsutsumi, Japan, 2011, 8 min.): Animals pass around a sketchbook to achieve something they cannot do alone.
Suspended Animation
(Cam Rossiter, Australia, 2012, 16 min.): A caterpillar grows old inside his cocoon with a painting of a beautiful butterfly.
(Reinis Petersons, Latvia, 2011, 11 min.): A bear works as an acrobat-motorcyclist in a traveling circus but yearns for the forest.
The Whale Story
(Tess Martin, U.S., 2012, 4 min.): A fisherman experiences a moment of connection with a female humpback whale in the waters off of San Francisco.
Wolf Dog Tales
(Bernadine Santistevan, U.S., 2012, 7 min.): Some of life’s greatest questions are answered through a series of indigenous tales of animal wisdoms.
LAS ACACIAS plays at 2:00pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema
Ruben is a lonely truck driver who for years has been carrying wood along the route from Asuncia del Paraguay to Buenos Aires. But today’s journey will be different. At a motorway stop, he agrees to take a young woman, Jacinta, to Buenos Aires, and she shows up an hour later with an 8-month-old baby. As the miles go by, the initially chilly relationship between Ruben and Jacinta slowly grows warmer. Though neither talks much about their lives or asks many questions, their rare exchanges become charged with emotional significance. “A relationship movie, a road movie, a silent movie,” says the Guardian. “Pablo Giorgelli has made a film that unfolds almost wordlessly, but very eloquently, and the unforced performances of its two leads make it absolutely beguiling” Las Acacia won a trio of prizes at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival: the Golden Camera Award, the ACID Award, and the Young Critics Award for Best Feature.
OFF WHITE LIES plays at 4:00pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema
After years of living apart, an introverted yet sharp-witted teenager is sent to live with her father in Israel just as the second Lebanon war is breaking out. Libby quickly discovers that Shaul, an infantile eccentric, is – in between apartments –  that is, homeless. Shaul, however, comes up with a creative plan to put a roof over their heads: Posing as refugees from the bombarded northern region of Israel, they are taken in by a well-off family in Jerusalem. Finally in a ‘normal’ household, Shaul and Libby begin to build a tentative father-daughter relationship, but Libby ultimately rebels with teenage fury at the lies in her life – both those she’s forced to tell now and those she’s been fed since childhood. Off White Lies won the Best Actor prize at the 2011 Jerusalem Film Festival.
SONGS FOR AMY plays at 6:30pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema  – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANA JUNG HERE

Set against the stunning backdrop of County Galway and crossing the Atlantic to New York, this darkly comedic love story follows struggling Irish musician Sean O’Malley (Sean Maguire, Meet the Spartans). After a drug-fueled night of debauchery with his band the night before his wedding, Sean wakes up in the wrong town in his underpants. When Amy, his beloved bride-to-be, learns of his antics on the news, she calls the whole thing off. Heartbroken, Sean goes on a roller-coaster journey of self-discovery and writes an album for Amy in an attempt to redeem himself and win her back. With the help (and hindrance) of his drunkenly rowdy misfit mates, Sean must learn to deal with love, loss, and some unexpected turns of fate. Song for Amy won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival.

With director Konrad Begg and producer Fiona Graham.


GUILTY plays at 9:00pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema

n the middle of the night, the rural Marecaux family awakens to find their house full of police, who ransack their home while showing open contempt toward the owners. The stunned parents (Caesar nominee Philippe Torreton and Noemie Lvovsky) stand accused of participating in a pedophile ring, and their terrified kids are dragged away to child protective services. Though there is no material proof against the couple and the accusers’ testimonies are wildly inconsistent, the Marecauxs are sent to prison rather than allowed bail. This compellingly dramatized film “an epic nightmare “ is based on the memoirs of the real-life protagonist at the center of one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice in modern French legal history. The Hollywood Reporter calls the film “a riveting account of one man’s descent into legal purgatory.”


A LATE QUARTET plays at 7:00pm at The Hi-Pointe Theatre

Featuring a powerhouse cast that includes Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, and Imogen Poots, A Late Quartet tells the story of an illustrious string quartet on the verge of celebrating their 25th season as an ensemble. To mark the anniversary, the group plans an ambitious recital of Beethoven’s Late String Quartets. Although it would seem a cause for celebration, the milestone instead becomes entangled in the web of jealousy, ambition, personal trauma, and deeply felt affection that binds the group together. Adding further complication, when Peter (Walken), the group’s founding member, is diagnosed with a degenerative illness, his condition forces the musician to confront the troubling question of who will succeed him. The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick notes: “I did not see a finer performance at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival than the one given by Christopher Walken.”

Roger Ebert says of A LATE QUARTET:

I suspect any serious music lover will be convinced that Yaron Zilberman’s film knows what it is talking about.

and Justin Chang in Variety writes:

The emotional precision of the performances by Hoffman, Walken, Keener and Ivanir are duly matched by how convincing they look at their instruments; all four thesps took lessons, and became adept enough to play short phrases onscreen. John Kasarda’s elegant production design includes a wealth of old photos and videos meticulously doctored to show the four leads hanging out as a group and/or posing with their instruments, furthering the illusion of their professional-musician stature.


GENERATION P plays at 9:30pm at The Hi-Pointe Theatre

Adapted from the Russian cult novel by Victor Pelevin, Generation P is at once a riddle, a farce, a romance, and an obscene joke about the end of a world. This bizarre, candy-colored, and drug-fueled parallel universe offers a glimpse of real life in Moscow’s ‘Roaring 1990s’ the era in which the film unfolds. Babylen Tatarsky, having rediscovered himself as an employee of an advertisement agency, is busy concocting marketing campaigns for Western brands and adapting them to the ‘Russian mentality’.Packed with special effects and unexpected revelations, this wild film tells the complex story of how former Soviet Komsomol youth were turned into advertisers in the service of the goddess Ishtar, and how the Pepsi Generation chose Coca-Cola.


THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH plays at 11:59pm at The Hi-Pointe Theatre

After inheriting a house from his estranged mother (Vanessa Redgrave), antiques dealer Leon Leigh (Aaron Poole, Copper) discovers that she had been living in a shrine devoted to a mysterious cult of angels. Soon, Leon comes to suspect that his mother’s oppressive spirit still lingers within her home and is using items in the house to contact him with an urgent message. Rue Morgue horror magazine publisher and award-winning filmmaker Rodrigo Gudio has crafted a terrifying new film that looks at the psychology of ghosts and employs a strikingly original narrative technique.

Tigger, Transformers, and Tropes: Telling Stories in TV Animation plays at 7:00pm Washington U./Brown and is a FREE presentation

With screenwriters Nicole Dubuc and Brian Hohlfield

What is there about ‘cartoons’ that compels both kids and adults to watch them, and adults to channel their inner kids to create them? Transformers: Rescue Bots staff writers Nicole Dubuc and Brian Hohlfeld (who have more than 300 animated episodes to their combined credit) take the audience through the process of how the shows are created and how animated storytelling continues the tradition of mythic narrative. The program features clips from Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, My Friends Tigger and Pooh,Kim Possible, and Transformers: Prime, just to name a few. Children 10 and younger receive a chance to win a new Transformers: Rescue Bots DVD, and Showcase sponsor Chipotle gives away buy-one-get-one-free meal cards.


THE GEORGE MELIES PROGRAM plays at 7:30pm at Webster U./Moore

When our spectacular program of Georges Melies shorts sold out at the Classic French Film Festival this summer, the folks who were turned away at the door begged for a return engagement. SLIFF is pleased to offer a reprise of the program on both sides of the Mississippi River – on Nov. 9 at Webster and on Nov. 10 at the Wildey. The program includes the restored A Trip to the Moon and a docudrama on the filmmaker, but the highlight of the event is a generous sampling of Melies shorts with original musical accompaniment by St. Louis’ Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra.


BETWEEN TWO RIVERS plays at 7:00pm at Wildey Theatre

Between Two Rivers explores Cairo, Ill., a historic river town isolated at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, where North meets South in the heartland of America. The film sets the city’s dark and turbulent past against the backdrop of the latest crisis to afflict the community: the record-breaking floods of spring 2011, when the rising rivers threatened to engulf the town. In addition to candid contemporary interviews, the documentary features archival footage that captures the town at the height of explosive racial tensions in 1969, when Cairo witnessed the last pitched battles of the civil-rights movement. Between Two Rivers considers the long-term impact of the violent civil unrest, economic boycotts, curfews and martial law that so deeply divided the community. Following the film, Carbondale’s Stace England and the Salt Kings perform their concept album Welcome to Cairo, Ill. in its entirety.

With co-directors Jordan and Cartwright, subject Jay Manus, and a performance by Stace England and the Salt Kings.



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