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SLIFF Day Nine – KNUCKLEBALL!, FINDING VIRGINIA and More

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The  21st Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival has just been voted BEST FILM FESTIVAL EVER!……..maybe……if it hasn’t it should because this year’s fest has provided a breathtaking variety of docs, dramas, foreign flix, comedies, shorts, and….you name it!

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.

http://cinemastlouis.org/sliff-2012

Here is what will be screening at The 21st Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival today, Friday, November 16th

ALTER EGOS

ALTER EGOS plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANA JUNG HERE

In the alternative world of Ârdizes an important mission with he discovers his girlfriend (Christine Evangelista) is cheating on him with his own alter ego. And now, in addition to coping with the fact that the love of his life prefers his superhero identity over his unmasked self, Fridge must reluctantly face his nemesis – the man who killed his mom and dad. The film – which features a soundtrack by Sean Lennon – is an ode to the shy, nerdy superhero in all of us. Variety writes: “Superpowered with silliness, ALTER EGOS is a comedy about second-string heroes, but has a first-rate sense of humor thanks to a wry script. This is a solid showcase for the talents involved.”

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KNUCKLEBALL!

KNUCKLEBALL! plays at 7:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre

The latest masterwork from directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg -whose diverse filmography includes Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, The Devil Came on Horseback,  and  The Trials of Darryl Hunt – KNUCKLEBALL! follows the Major League’s only knuckleballers in 2011, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, as they pursue a mercurial art form in a world that values speed and accuracy. The 45-year-old Wakefield is a 17-year veteran and Red Sox fan favorite striving to attain the deeply personal milestone of 200 career wins. Dickey is an articulate 34-year-old neophyte trying to fight his way out of the minor-league system with the New York Mets. With extraordinary access, the film follows their personal quests at the ballpark, on the road, and at home with family, and a Greek chorus of past knuckleballers, including Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, and Jim Bouton, provides solace and advice.

With co-directors Rickie Stern and Annie Sundberg, Women in Film Award honorees, on Nov. 16.

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DANLAND: A PORNUMENTARY

DANLAND: A PORNUMENTARY plays at 9:45pm at the Tivoli Theatre

Unflinching in its portrayal of the amateur-porn world, DANLAND: A PORNUMENTARY offers an insightful, unsettling look at our collective desires and fears about love and sex. Having spent much of his career shooting amateur gangbang videos in the basement of his suburban Virginia home, Dan Leal (aka Porno Dan) exults in his nomination for an AVN Award. But Dan also has a conflicting desire: He’s looking for real intimacy, an actual committed relationship. Deciding to give up starring in his own films and concentrate on living a cleaner personal life, Dan turns blissfully domestic as he renews his relationship with an ex-girlfriend. But the lure of his old life is too strong, and soon enough Dan is back to partying hard and having sex on camera.

With director Alexandra Berger.

Shown with:
Grace
(Thomas Meadmore, Australia, 2012, 8 min.)

The filmmaker recognizes himself in the narcissistic behavior of his 90-year-old grandpa.

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DOC SHORTS: JOBS

DOC SHORTS: JOBS plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre

A globe-spanning survey of the myriad ways in which we make a living.

Avalon
(Tyler Manson, U.S., 2012, 6 min.): Avalon International Breads serves as a neighborhood anchor and a sign of Detroit’s bright future.
Boomtown
(Torben Bernhard & Travis Low, U.S., 2012, 13 min.): A portrait of the silver-mine boomtown of Frisco, Utah.
Comfortable (Comodo)
(Jonah David, Nicaragua/U.S., 2011, 15 min., Spanish & English): An exploration of a small hotel in the fishing village of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, owned by a Texan and worked by the local people. With director David.
Emptys
(Joshua Leake, U.S., 2012, 10 min.): A look at the lives of Tim, Ernie, Joe and Jenna, who find and return bottles and cans as their principal source of income. with director Leake.
Full-Time Ministry
(Helen Hood Scheer, U.S., 2012, 4 min.): A character portrait of a devout evangelical Christian man who teaches by day and creates Gospel-inspired ice sculptures by night.
Good Karma $1
(Jason Berger & Amy Laslett, U.S., 2012, 15 min.): An exploration of acclaimed ad-guru Alex Bogusky’s fascination with collecting homeless signs.
Still
(Ruby Stocking, Michael Barth, Pasqual Gutierrez & Jose Tadeu Bijos, U.S., 2012, 11 min.): A dive into the life of Carlos Eyles, an author, free diver, and ocean photographer.
The Yodeling Farmer
(Mike Maryniuk & John Scoles, Canada, 2011, 6 min.): A playful, animated documentary on Manitoba cowboy yodeling legend Stew Clayton.
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FINDING VIRGINIA
FINDING VIRGINIA plays at 7:15pm at the Tivoli Theatre

From Illinois – quiet cornfields comes a story inspired by true events of suffering and sacrifice. FINDING VIRGINIA – shot in DeKalb, Ill. – examines a community as it attempts to discover what led to the disappearance of a sweet, loving member. New light is shed on the year-old investigation when an already-imprisoned young man gloats to his cellmate of his firsthand involvement, and a tragic nightmare reveals itself. Over the course of 18 hours, kidnapper Nathan Daniels torments and intimidates a young single mother, pushing the very boundaries of her faith. Abducting Virginia ‘Ginny’ Cutler from a crowded parking lot in broad daylight, Nathan coerces her into driving him around town in a wicked game. Threatening deadly consequences to both loved ones and strangers, Nathan cruelly tempts Ginny to flee and succumb to her instincts of self-preservation.

With director Thomas Card.

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THE SILENT THIEF

THE SILENT THIEF plays at 9:30pm at the Tivoli Theatre – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANA JUNG HERE

This taut psychological thriller examines familial bonds, the human need to belong, and the thin line between sanity and insanity. Brennan Marley is an outcast drifter who threatens to destroy a family’s unity by displacing their biological son, Mike, while he is away at college. Hungry for acceptance and exceptionally cunning, Brennan becomes a boarder at the Henderson family’s beach home under false pretenses. Claiming that he is an orphan from England, Brennan uses his manipulative prowess to ingratiate himself with each member of the Henderson family before Mike returns home from college for Christmas vacation. As Brennan’s tactics become increasingly pernicious, long-buried family secrets are revealed with violent results.

With director Jennifer Clary.

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THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART plays at 2:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY BARBARA SNITZER HERE

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.

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APARTMENT IN ATHENS

APARTMENT IN ATHENS plays at 4:45pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANE MARTI HERE

In 1943 Athens, an apartment is requisitioned to provide accommodations for a German officer. The space is already occupied by the Helianos, a middle-aged couple who used to be well-off; they share the residence with their 10-year old son, who is filled with revenge fantasies, and a 12-year old daughter. With the arrival of Capt. Kalter, life changes dramatically, with the cruel officer inflicting terror like a military god and the family giving in submissively. At night, they dread the following day’s orders and exchange sparse, terse words. When the captain leaves for Germany, however, his return brings a surprise – Kalter comes back a changed man, kinder and even indulgent. But the balance remains fragile. APARTMENT IN ATHENS won Best First Feature Award at the 2012 Italian Golden Globes.

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FAME HIGH

FAME HIGH plays at 7:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

At the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), aka Fame High, talented teenagers reach for their dreams of becoming actors, singers, dancers, and musicians. From the nail-biting freshman auditions to the spectacular year-end performances, FAME HIGH captures the in-class and at-home drama, competition, heartbreak, and triumph during a year at one of the most respected and competitive public arts high schools in the country. LACHSA has produced such famous alums as singer Josh Groban, actors Jenna Elfman and Anthony Anderson, and Alvin Ailey dancer Matt Rushing. The follow-up to Oscar nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s The Garden, FAME HIGH is a Robert Altman-esque documentary-musical hybrid that follows a group of novice freshman and seasoned seniors struggling to find their voice in both art and life with the help of  -  and sometimes in spite of -  their passionate and opinionated families.

With director Scott Kennedy.

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SENSE OF HUMOR

SENSE OF HUMOR plays at 9:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY JIM BATTS HERE

In this laugh-out-loud killer comedy, two hack comics are trying their best not to be two ‘hacked’ comics. When touring MontrEal comedians Luc and Marco make audience member Roger the butt of jokes at one of their shows, the decision proves a bad career move. Roger, who appears to be a vicious serial killer, promises revenge with what he refers to as the ball cutter, but he gives the unlucky duo a chance to save themselves: They must school the humorless Roger in the art of comedy, allowing him to charm the woman he loves and take down the nemesis who picks on him at work. Will they be successful in their Cyrano-like attempts to teach Roger the art of joke-telling or will he bomb? Either way, Roger is going to kill. Director Gaudreault wrote the screenplay for the 1999 Ron Howard film Edtv.

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VOLCANO

VOLCANO plays at 2:00pm 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. “he 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.

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 SHORTS PROGRAM 9: DRAMA

SHORTS PROGRAM 9: DRAMA plays at 4:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

A program offering a bittersweet reminder that life is hard.

Another Bullet Dodged
(Landon Zakheim, U.S., 2011, 13 min.): A wolf in sheep’s clothing actually thinks he is a sheep.
A Beautiful Impurity
(Zaheer Ahmad, U.K., 2012, 13 min.): Noah is a young and naive member of an underground group of neo-Nazis in East London.
A Burning Thing
(Damien Power, Australia, 2011, 10 min.): An affair between an arsonist and a volunteer rural firefighter burns out of control.
I Am John Wayne
(Christina Choe, U.S., 2012, 18 min.): A lyrical portrait of Taco, a young urban cowboy struggling with the death of his best friend.
Strawberry Fields
(Esther Bialas, Germany, 2011, 13 min.): Stefan enjoys sleeping with Marie in the strawberry field, but he does not love her.
They Say
(Alauda Ruiz de Aza, Spain, 2011, 18 min.): Not everything that goes on at school is a game.
Tracer Gun
(Paul Grellong, U.S., 2012, 17 min.): A little mistake turns into a living nightmare when Abby apologizes for a drunken kiss by giving the right gift to the wrong man.
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RUST AND BONE
RUST AND BONE plays at 7:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
Lonely and destitute, Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead) leaves the north of France for his sister’s house in Antibes after becoming the sole guardian of his estranged 5-year-old son. When he meets the radiant and beautiful Stephanie (Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose), a woman who trains Orca whales at Marineland, things quickly start to look up. Though her position on the high end of the social spectrum makes romance an unlikely prospect for the pair, when a tragic accident robs her of her legs, Stephanie reaches out in desperation to Ali. Although her spirit has been broken by the tragedy that took her legs, Stephanie gradually finds the courage to go on living through transcendent moments spent with Ali – a man with precious little pity but an enormous love of life. One of the buzz films of Cannes, RUST AND BONE is directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, The Beat That My Heart Skipped).
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BARBARA
BARBARA plays at 9:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
In East Germany, circa 1980, talented young doctor Barbara Wolff (Nina Hoss) has applied for an exit visa from the GDR and, as punishment, been transferred from her prestigious post in Berlin to a small pediatric hospital in the country. Even though Barbara is constantly aware of the shadowy presence of Stasi officers chronicling her every move and waking hour, she arrives at her new post having already planned a series of dangerous assignations with her lover, with whom she plans to escape to the West through Poland.BARBARA, the official German submission for the 2013 Academy Awards, screened at the Berlin, Toronto and New York film festivals. Director Petzold is a SLIFF alum, with both Yella and Jerichow playing the 2009 fest.
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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.

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THE KING IS DEAD

THE KING IS DEAD plays at 9:30pm at the Hi-Pointe Theatre

Veteran SLIFF director Rolf de Heer (Ten Canoes, The Tracker) offers a darkly comic film about neighbors, amphetamines, and giant Maoris with baseball bats. Max and Therese are easygoing young yuppies who are happy with both each other and the world. Given their tolerant nature, when the couple moves into a new home, they initially find the antics of the drug-dealing party animal next door interesting, but the incessantly loud neighbor taxes even their considerable patience and soon become intolerable. The police are powerless, and the community lawyer suggests ear plugs, so the frustrated Max and Therese attempt to tackle the problem on their own. The result is a corpse – and even that’s not the worst of it. Variety describes THE KING IS DEAD as “a combo of dark suburban drama, absurdist social comedy and violent crime thriller” and calls it “an engaging and entertaining yarn.”

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ASURA

ASURA plays at 11:59pm at the Hi-Pointe Theatre

In mid-15th century Japan, flood, drought, and famine transformed the landscape of the capital of Kyoto into a barren wasteland. More than 80,000 perished in the three years between 1459 and 1461. This desolate state served as the backdrop to the beginning of the country’s greatest civil war, and the victims of this dark period in Japan’s history were too great in number to include in the pages of history. This stunningly gorgeous animated film is set during this troubled era, and its eponymous hero grows up a savage, enraged orphan. Asura does whatever it takes to survive in the wild, but when he crosses paths with civilization, he must learn to tame the beast within. Although a film of unrelenting and violent horror, ASURA also features a deeply religious core.

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DIGNITY HARBOR: A HOME AWAY FROM HOMELESS

DIGNITY HARBOR: A HOME AWAY FROM HOMELESS plays at 6:30pm at Washington U./Brown

One of nine documentary nominees for the 2012 Student Academy Award, DIGNITY HARBOR chronicles a group of homeless people living in an encampment along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis. In the shadow of the Arch, several makeshift communities – Hopeville, Sparta, and Dignity Harbor – are erected when work begins to fill the tunnels under Tucker Boulevard, displacing many homeless. In Dignity Harbor, the self-appointed mayor promises a safe environment – women are especially to be welcomed – and the residents work cooperatively to cut wood and build rudimentary shelters. But conflicts inevitably arise, tempers occasionally flare, and everyone struggles to survive the harsh St. Louis winter. Although the utopian dream finally dies for good when the city bulldozes the shantytowns, not all is lost, with several of the residents moving to more permanent housing.

With co-director Mike Gualdoni and Virginia Shelton, director of Special Projects for the Homeless, Catholic Charities Community Services.

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THE INVISIBLE MEN

THE INVISIBLE MEN plays at 8:30pm at Washington U./Brown

THE INVISIBLE MEN tells the hidden story of persecuted gay Palestinians who have run away from their families and are now living secretly and illegally in Tel Aviv. The film examines a trio of representative figures: Louie, 32 years old, a gay Palestinian who has been hiding in Tel Aviv for the past eight years; Abdu, 24 years old, who was exposed as gay in Ramallah and then accused of espionage and tortured by Palestinian security forces; and Faris, 23 years old, who escaped to Tel Aviv from the West Bank after his family tried to kill him. Faced with impossible choices, the men’s only chance for survival is to seek asylum outside Israel and Palestine and leave their homelands forever behind. THE INVISIBLE MEN was named Outstanding Documentary Feature at Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

With director Yariv Mozer.

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SIREN OF THE TROPICS

SIREN OF THE TROPICS plays at 7:00pm at Webster U./Moore

As part of double bill celebrating native St. Louisan Josephine Baker, SLIFF features the radiant star’s first film, the silent SIREN OF THE TROPICS, with live musical accompaniment by the Poor People of Paris. Marquis, a rich, lazy Parisian, wants to divorce his wife so that he can marry his goddaughter Denise. But Denise loves Andre, an engineer employed by the marquis. Filled with jealousy, the marquis sends Andre to the Antilles and instructs Alvarez, his manager at the site, to prevent the engineer from ever returning to France. When Andre breaks up Alvarez’s attempt to rape Papitou (Baker), a beautiful native girl, she becomes devoted to Andre and works to protects him against Alvarez’s schemes.

With live musical accompaniment by the Poor People of Paris.

Shown with:
THE OTHER JOSEPHINE
Philip Judith-Gozlin, France, 2011, 64 min., French & English (8:30 p.m.)

Native St. Louisan Josephine Baker remains justly famous for her scandalous Danse sauvage and her banana skirt, but the woman born Freda Josephine MacDonald was far more than an erotic dancer – during her eventful life, Baker was also a film star, singer, decorated member of the French Resistance, civil-rights activist, and adoptive mother to a large multicultural family. Beginning her career as a street-corner dancer in St. Louis, Baker moved first to New York during the Harlem Renaissance and then to Paris, where her massive popularity prompted Ernest Hemingway to declare Baker the most sensational woman anyone ever saw. This new documentary – co-written by her son Brian Bouillon-Baker, who also serves as on-screen guide – offers an intimate portrait of Baker, including a visit to her hometown and interviews with friends, family members, and fellow artists.

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YELLOW ROCK

YELLOW ROCK plays at 7:00pm at the Wildey Theatre – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY DANE MARTI HERE – READ TOM STOCKMAN’S INTERVIEW WITH WRITER/STAR LENORE ANDRIEL HERE

Five men ride into a small Western town in an attempt to rescue a man and his lost boy. The group’s leader hires mountain man Tom Hanner to guide them into the Black Paw Tribe territory for the search. Hanner agrees on the condition that they receive permission from the tribe to enter their lands, and they recruit the assistance of Sarah Taylor, a doctor who tends to the Indians and lives in the territory. Receiving permission from the tribal elders, the band begins its trek through the wild land in search of the missing, but an Indian legend about the curse of the YELLOW ROCK found in the area proves true. Consumed with gold fever, the members of the party end up  not only struggling with the haunted land and its wild animals but also fighting with each other.

With costume designer/co-producer Catherine Elhoffer and producer/co-star Lenore Andriel.

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