SLIFF Day Eight – BITTER BUDDHA, HEADSHOT, ELIMINATE: ARCHIE COOKSON, and More
Wow, the 21st Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival already has been amazing!
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, Thursday, November 15th
SHORTS PROGRAM 8: QUIRKY RELATIONSHIPS
SHORTS PROGRAM 8: QUIRKY RELATIONSHIPS plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre
Shorts that give romance a twist.
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE is a funny, eccentric modern love story about Steven, an aging white man with “yellow fever” who is obsessed with marrying an Asian woman, and Sandy, the young Chinese bride he finds online. Debbie Lum, a Chinese-American filmmaker (and former St. Louisan), at first simply documents Steven’s search for an Asian bride, but as events unfold, she becomes an inextricable part of the story. Narrating with skepticism and humor, Lum follows the process from Steven’s initial failed attempts to find a mate, through Sandy’s hesitant arrival in America, to the first-year anniversary of their fraught, precarious union. As Lum is increasingly pressed into reluctant service as translator and marriage counselor, SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE turns ever quirkier and more intimately personal, becoming a film about not just cultural differences and the eternal battle of the sexes but also the catalyzing role of the documentary filmmaker
With director/subject Debbie Lum.
THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO
THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO plays at 7:15pm at the Tivoli Theatre
Andre Robert Lee and his sister grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia. Their mother struggled to support them by putting strings in the waistbands of track pants and swimsuits in a local factory. When Andre was 14 years old, he received what his family believed to be a golden ticket – a full scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Elite education was Andre’s way up and out, but at what price? Yes, the exorbitant tuition was covered, but this new world cost him and his family much more than anyone could have anticipated. In THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO Andre takes a journey back in time to revisit the events of his adolescence while also spending time with current-day prep-school students of color and their classmates to see how much has really changed inside the ivory tower.
With director/subject Andre Robert Lee.
THE SOURCE plays at 9:30pm at the Tivoli Theatre
The Source Family was a radical experiment in ‘70s utopian living. Their outlandish style, popular health-food restaurant, rock band, and beautiful women made them the darlings of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, but their outsider ideals and the unconventional behavior of their spiritual leader, Father Yod, caused controversy with local authorities. The family met its eventual demise after relocating to Hawaii, but its influence remains: Years later, former members surface and the rock band reforms, revealing how Father Yod shaped their lives in the most unexpected ways. A fascinating window on the counterculture movement of the early ‘70s, “The Source” provides an intimate insiders’ view through archival photos, home movies, audio recordings, and contemporary interviews with members of the family. The film is inspired by the cult-classic book The Source: The Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family (Process Media), which was written by family members and edited by director Jodi Wille.
AMNESTY plays at 2:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
A new national law allowing conjugal visits for inmates brings together a man and woman visiting the same prison to meet their incarcerated spouses. Elsa’s dutiful contact with her husband is part of a routine that includes job searching, raising her two sons, and getting along with her father-in-law. When she meets Spetim, a quiet man who engages in equally passionless encounters with his imprisoned wife, they slowly find the sympathy and companionship missing from their lives. A prisoner amnesty, however, soon threatens their fragile bond in this closely observed, sensual, and contemplative drama highlighting a period of subtle but profound social transformation. AMNESTY won of the New Cinema Award at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.
QUARANTINA plays at 4:15pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
A broken family under an incestuous patriarch lives uneasily within the gated courtyard of a dilapidated Baghdad house. The pregnant daughter has fallen silent, finding some limited protection with the patriarch’s young second wife and his preteen son. Hard up for money, the household must also cope with a sullen and imperious boarder who works as a contract killer. Trapped in such bleak circumstances, the family members long for the freedom and safety that lie beyond the house’s gates. Iraqi filmmaker Oday Rasheed’s second feature gorgeously captures contemporary Baghdad’s stunned atmosphere, and the performances by his formidable cast suggest unexpected resilience in the face of catastrophe.
BOOSTER plays at 6:45pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANE MARTI HERE
BOOSTER is a film about family – the one you are born with and the one you make along the way. Simon (Nico Stone), a petty thief, makes his living shoplifting and selling stolen goods. When his brother is arrested for armed robbery, Simon is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his sibling acquitted. Although clearly ill equipped for the task, Simon is loyal to his brother and struggles with the monumental decision. In wrestling with the choice, Simon is unknowingly set on a path to discover his own identity. BOOSTER premiered at SXSW, where Stone won acting honors. The film’s cast also includes veteran actor Seymour Cassel, who appears as an aging ex-criminal. Variety writes: BOOSTER is an austere and stripped-to-essentials indie that suggests a Boston crime drama such as ‘The Town’ or ‘Monument Ave.’ as reimagined by Robert Bresson.”
HEADSHOT plays at 8:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANE MARTI HERE
A darkly turbulent crime drama from leading Thai new wave director Pen-ek Ratanaruang – familiar to SLIFF attendees from 6ixtynin9, Monrak Transistor, and Invisible Waves – HEADSHOT is a disorienting existential thriller ripe with shadowy paranoia. When straight-laced cop Tul is blackmailed by a powerful politician, his disillusionment leads him to work as a hitman for an iconoclastic group that assassinates those who are above the law. But when a devastating blow literally turns Tul’s world upside-down, he finds himself plagued by doubt, unsure of whether his vision impairment is a medical condition or a result of karmic retribution. Offering pointed social commentary on the modern penal system, HEADSHOT is more than just a thriller: Dubbed a Buddhist neo-noir by its director, the film is a smart, stylishly executed, ethically oriented update on a classic genre. HEADSHOT is the official Thai submission for the 2013 Academy Awards.
MARIACHI GRINGO plays at 2:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANA JUNG HERE
Edward (Shawn Ashmore) is rapidly approaching 30. He feels depressed and stifled living with his parents in small Nebraska town. After yet another argument with his mother about his life, he winds up in a local Mexican restaurant, where the patriarch is delighted that the young man takes an interest in and appreciates his music. Feeling stuck in his dead-end life, Edward decides to follow a new path and runs away to Mexico to be a mariachi singer. Arriving in Guadalajara, capital of the region where mariachi started in the 18th century, the gringo is promptly shaken down by some crooked cops before meeting a beautiful young woman who encourages him to chase his dream. This touching film is a musical tour-de-force exploring the reality of “following your dream” across cultural, personal, social, and geographical borders. MARIACHI GRINGO won Best Film and Best Actress at the 2012 Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival.
THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART
THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART plays at 4:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART explores the seriocomic complications of family. When Eli, who’s about to turn 60, announces that he and his new wife are expecting a baby, his two grown daughters react with shock. Childless Dom, who is trying to adopt with her husband, is envious of the pregnancy. And Justine (Melanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds), who flits from one boyfriend to the next, blames her insensitive father’s poor parenting for her inability to establish a long-term relationship. As a means of making amends, Eli decides to become friends with all of Justine’s exes – without her knowledge – and inadvertently sabotages his daughter’s serious new romance. The family appears on the verge of falling apart. Will they be able to make peace before it’s too late? THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART won awards for Best Actress and Best Director at the 2012 Newport Film Festival.
HEARTLAND: A PORTRAIT OF SURVIVAL
HEARTLAND: A PORTRAIT OF SURVIVAL plays at 6:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
HEARTLAND offers a moving snapshot of close-knit Joplin, Mo., which must crawl from beneath the rubble and make sense of the widespread loss caused by one of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in American history. The film weaves together the stories of nine families as they traverse a now-unfamiliar landscape in the hope of recovering some sense of home. Seamlessly blending together home-movie footage, police dispatches, news broadcasts, and footage shot within weeks after the storm, HEARTLAND tells an inspiring story of survival. The story focuses on the efforts of one woman as she sets out to collect and return thousands of photos displaced by the tornado. In some cases, these photos represent all that is left from life before the storm. HEARTLAND offers a reminder of what is most important in life: New homes, cars, and clothes can always be purchased, but old memories are irreplaceable.
With director Erica Tremblay and producer Bernard Parham.
More than 100 residents died, thousands of lives changed, and one indispensable community newspaper endured. “Deadline in Disaster” chronicles how the Joplin Globe helped its town find hope in the aftermath of the EF-5 tornado that nearly destroyed Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011. The tornado took the life of the Globe’s page designer, and one-third of the staff members lost their homes. Much like the hard-rock miners who settled Joplin, the workers at the Globe faced long hours and difficult working conditions as they uncovered stories from the disaster. Still, the Globe rolled the presses on the night of the storm and refused to miss a beat in the many difficult days that followed. In the film, reporters examine their roles as community watchdog and residents reflect on how their newspaper served as a vital source for mourning their losses and moving forward.
With co-directors Pike and Hudnell, executive producer Doug Crews, co-producer Scott Charton, and Joplin Globe reporter Emily Younker.
IT MAY BE LOVE BUT IT DOESN’T SHOW
IT MAY BE LOVE BUT IT DOESN’T SHOW plays at 9:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY BARBARA SNITZER HERE
The path of good intentions is paved with difficulties and hilarious misunderstandings in this goofy but sweet Italian comedy. Salvo and Valentino operate a small company that carries tourists around Turin in an old, colorfully restored English bus. When they hire the beautiful young Natascha to deliver the tour information in English, Salvo also hopes that she will reignite his love life. Meanwhile, Valentino is obsessed with long-time girlfriend Gisella, but she finds his adoration too stifling and leaves him heartbroken. Complicating romantic matters further, Salvo’s good friend Sonia comes back from the U.S. with a new boyfriend in tow but other desires in mind.
THE FINGER plays at 2:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
When a remote village in Argentina formally becomes a town with the birth of its 501st inhabitant, the slick and ingratiating Hidalgo is eager for the new post of mayor. Smelling a rat, Baldomero – a beloved natural leader with a habitually tapping digit – opposes him with his own candidacy and soon turns up dead. His shopkeeper brother vows revenge, keeping Baldomero’s severed finger in a jar, initially as a remembrance but eventually as an inspirational icon that spurs the town to defy crooked elections, interloping powers, and Hidalgo himself. Based on real events, this charming dramatic comedy pokes fun at small-town ways while celebrating true democratic values.
VOLCANO plays at 4:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
VOLCANO is the coming-of-age story of a 67-year-old man. When Hannes retires from his longtime job as a janitor, he feels a void in his life: Estranged from his family, he has few friends, and the relationship with his wife has faded. Compelled to help someone he loves, Hannes eventually realizes that he must adjust his life and warm his icy demeanor. In this touching Icelandic love story, Hannes confronts the choices of his past and the difficulties of his present in order to embrace the future. “The poignantly performed pic strikes grace notes that feel both universal and uniquely Icelandic,” writes Variety. VOLCANO swept the 2012 Icelandic Edda Awards, winning for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay.
A 7 HOUR DIFFERENCE
A 7 HOUR DIFFERENCE plays at 7:15pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
East meets West at the crossroads of love, culture, and family in A 7 HOUR DIFFERENCE. Back home in Jordan from the U.S., where she studies architecture in Boston, Dalia is enjoying the festivities leading up to her sister’s wedding. When her father surprises her with an offer of a lavish office space in the city, he fully expects her to return to Jordan to live. Jason (Thom Bishops), an American who is the love of her life, then adds to the complications by showing up in Amman unannounced and proposing. Problem is, Dalia hasn’t yet told her family, and Jason is pressuring her to live in the States with him. This breezy romantic comedy is the first Jordanian feature film to be directed by a woman
With actor Thom Bishops.
COME AS YOU ARE
COME AS YOU ARE plays at 9:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
In this inspiring comic drama, a trio of twentysomething Flemish friends – Lars, Philip and Jozef – each has a serious physical handicap. The three visit each other frequently, and when they learn of a luxury brothel in Spain that specializes in hosting men with a handicap, they organize a road trip so they won’t die as virgins. To make the journey, however, they must first convince their parents, and the friends are understandably reluctant to reveal the real reason behind their Spanish sojourn. As a cover, they concoct a well-organized plan about a trip to wine country, even recruiting a taciturn driver who specializes in “holidays for people with a handicap.” COME AS YOU ARE won multiple awards at the 2011 Montreal World Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Americas, People’s Choice Award, and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.
ELIMINATE: ARCHIE COOKSON
ELIMINATE: ARCHIE COOKSON plays at 7:00pm at the Hi-Pointe Theatre
When Archie Cookson (Paul Rhys, From Hell), a washed-up British spy, mysteriously receives stolen secret tapes, he becomes the target of an assassination by senior MI6 officials. Archie survives the elimination of his departmental colleagues only to be confronted by longtime friend and ex-CIA “problem solver” Ennis Miller (Paul Ritter). Initially appearing to be Archie’s salvation, Ennis is soon revealed to be a reluctant assassin hired to finish the job. In a gesture of friendship, Ennis grants a temporary stay of execution for Archie to reconcile his differences with his estranged family. As the grim reality of his situation begins to dawn on Archie, a chance encounter with an alluring young woman fires up the long-lost passion and restores the fighting spirit that Archie once possessed.
With director Robin Holder.
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.
WAGNER AND ME
WAGNER AND ME plays at 7:00pm at Webster U./Moore
In this engagingly complex documentary, actor and writer Stephen Fry explores his passion for the world’s most controversial composer and confronts Richard Wagner’s associations with anti-Semitism and Hitler. Fry’s quest begins in southern Germany, where he is granted unique access to Bayreuth’s legendary annual Wagner festival. Fry then make pilgrimages to several key sites in Switzerland, Bavaria, and St. Petersburg. But Fry also grapples with the composer’s dark side: In Nuremberg, he investigates Hitler’s appropriation of Wagner’s music, and in London, he meets with a cellist who played in the prisoners’ orchestra at Auschwitz, a camp where some of Fry’s relatives died. Animated by Fry’s trademark wit and intelligence and featuring a soundtrack of Wagner’s extraordinary music, WAGNER AND ME is a provocative exploration of the life and legacy of one of history’s great geniuses.
LOVE SICK LOVE
LOVE SICK LOVE plays at 9:00pm at Webster U./Moore – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANA JUNG HERE
Featuring dark-as-pitch comedy throughout, LOVE SICK LOVE starts as a twisted romance and ends as an edgy thriller. Dori (Katia Winter, Dexter) initially appears both stunning and sophisticated, but her gorgeous looks deceive: This serial dater is a sociopath hell-bent on having the “perfect” relationship. Deep in the isolated countryside, far from any help or even a cell-phone tower, Norman (Matthew Settle, The Celestine Prophecy) is forced to endure a comical yet terrifying weekend that compresses all the key holidays that define a successful couple’s relationship – Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve – into a few fraught days. Charlotte Rae (Bananas) and M. Emmett Walsh (Blade Runner) co-star as Dori’s colluding parents.
With director Christian Charles, writer Ryan Oxford, producer Anne Estonilo, and executive producer Eric Matejevich.