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SLIFF Day Six – Shorts, STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, ALTER EGOS, JOPLIN, and More

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Day six of the 21st Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival is upon us!

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, Tuesday, November 13th

BAND OF SISTERS

BAND OF SISTERS plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre

nspired by Vatican II (a 1962-65 council of Catholic bishops) and the great social movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, U.S. nuns left their convents, found their mission with the poor, and grew in their spirituality – often to the chagrin of the Vatican hierarchy. Against this backdrop, “Band of Sisters” follows Sisters Pat Murphy (now 82) and JoAnn Persch (77) for four years as they lobby, cajole, plot, and pray for the rights of immigrant detainees. With its diverse cast of sister-characters (including a housing CEO, peace activist, alternative health-care provider for the poor, and organic farmer) BAND OF SISTERS seamlessly ties the past with the present. Like its characters, the film proves both surprisingly lighthearted and inspirational.

With director Mary Fishman.

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STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

STRUCK BY LIGHTNING plays at 7:30pm at the Tivoli Theatre  – READ THE WAMG REVIEW BY TRAVIS KEUNE HERE

High-school senior Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer of “Glee”) was destined for bigger things than his close-minded small town could ever offer. He was on a path to greatness, but destiny had a different plan when he was suddenly killed by a bolt of lightning in his school parking lot. Demonstrating that life is what happens while you’re busy planning your future, Carson recounts the last few weeks of his life via witty, insightful flashbacks, including a blackmail scheme targeting the popular kids in school that he concocts with his best friend (Rebel Wilson of “Bridesmaids”) and a home life that includes a mother (Allison Janney of “Juno” and “The West Wing”) who’s more interested in the bottle than her son’s future and an estranged father (Dermot Mulroney of “My Best Friend’s Wedding”) who suddenly appears with a pregnant fiancée (Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men”).

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ALTER EGOS

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

In the alternative world of “Alter Egos,” superheroes are a dime a dozen, and the underappreciated heroes have recently lost government funding and public support. As if those troubles weren’t enough, nerdy Fridge (Kris Lemche) jeopardizes 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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JOPLIN MISSOURI: A TORNADO STORY

JOPLIN MISSOURI: A TORNADO STORY plays at 5:00pm at the Tivoli Theatre – READ THE REVIEW BY BARBARA SNITZER HERE

On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado devastated the southwest Missouri town of Joplin. A story of survival, healing, and hope told by people who lived through it, the documentary focuses on firsthand accounts of the tornado that devastated the town, recording widespread destruction but emphasizing the residents’ resilience. Filmmaker Gubera – a former Joplin resident – offers a highly personal look at how the tornado has affected the town and its people. The film is narrated by George Noory, host of “Coast to Coast AM.”

With director Chip Gubera.

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LE HAVRE

LE HAVRE plays at 7:15pm at the Tivoli Theatre

Acclaimed Finnish director Kaurismaki (The Man Without a Past, Floating Clouds) sketches a warmhearted portrait of the titular French harbor city, offering a political fairytale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Marcel Carné. In the film, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa into the path of Marcel Marx, a well-spoken bohemian who works shining shoes. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A charming, deadpan delight,LE HAVRE won both the FIPRESCI critics prize and the Special Mention Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. “Combining his clownish storytelling with a life-affirming plot,” writes IndieWire, “Kaurismaki churns a fundamental scenario through his own unique narrative tendencies, yielding a product both heartwarming and irreverent.”

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SHORTS 5: COMEDY

SHORTS 5: COMEDY plays at 9:15pm at the Tivoli Theatre

The laughter never stops once the program starts.

Clean
(Jonathan Browning, U.S., 2012, 4 min.): A couple clean their house in preparation for a very special guest.
Dear Hunters
(Zack Bornstein, Eric Binswanger & David Shuck, U.S., 2012, 9 min.): When Milo’s father and grandfather tell him he’s too young to go hunting, he takes matters into his own hands.
Deerskin Lake
(Joshua Clark, U.S., 2011, 7 min.): Dan Redding faces difficulties in his first session at group therapy.
The Immigrant
(Josh Levy, Canada, 2011, 20 min.): After being deported back to his native Canada, once-famous comedian Bob London attempts a Hollywood comeback.
Long Distance Information
(Douglas Hart, U.K., 2011, 8 min.): Da always said not to talk to strangers, but you’ve got to phone home sometimes.
Sorry, Rabbi
(Mark Slutsky, Canada, 2011, 11 min.): Surrounded by angry Hassids, Josh is astonished to find himself accused of anti-Semitic violence.
Take a Seat
(Richell Morrissey, U.S., 2011, 9 min.): A newly acclaimed Executive of the Year spirals into a panic while preparing for a day filled with employee cutbacks.
Talking Dog for Sale, 10 Euros
(Lewis-Martin Soucy, France, 2012, 8 min.): When a man sees an advertisement for a talking dog, he pursues the offer with natural skepticism.
Tumbleweed!
(Jared Varava, U.S., 2011, 7 min.): The true and historically accurate tale of one tumbleweed that did not tumble.
The White Mosquito
(Marco Gadge, Germany, 2011, 16 min.): In a quiet provincial town, two policemen lead a contemplative life until the mayor has an ominous idea.
Would You
(Brian McGinn & Rod Blackhurst, U.S., 2012, 8 min.): Two old friends play a game of “Would You Rather,” and their choices begin to come true.
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WAGNER AND ME
WAGNER AND ME plays at 2:30pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema
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.
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THE SOUL OF FLIES
THE SOUL OF FLIES plays at 4:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
By turns comic, poignant, absurd, and profoundly moving, THE SOUL OF FLIES tells the story of the two sons of Evaristo de la Sierra. The brothers have never met their father and are unaware of each other’s existence, but when Evaristo sends them a letter inviting them to his funeral, the two meet at a train station – though the train hasn’t gone by in years – and set off on a strange odyssey through a barren landscape. Along a path of memories, fables, and dreams, they encounter a startling array of weird and wonderful characters – a suicidal narcoleptic, a man angrily opposed to funerals, a pack of thieving musicians, a young woman in love with the spring – who collectively guide the brothers in their unusual journey.
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LONE SAMARITAN
LONE SAMARITAN plays at 6:45pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
The Samaritans, a tiny religious sect, are dying out, but they still maintain extremely harsh rules against assimilation: If you leave the fold, you and your family are as good as dead. Israeli actress Sophie Tzedaka is one such woman. One by one, she and her three sisters became “Jews” and were excommunicated by their 700-person community. So was their father. “Lone Samaritan” is a touching father-daughter journey that transcends all beliefs. The film explores universal issues of faith and modernity, the role of women in religion, and the individual’s right to forge an independent identity – especially when that means violating a tradition you still hold dear.
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THE GOOD SON
THE GOOD SON plays at 8:45pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
After an unlucky and scandalous movie premiere, spoiled and vain actress Leila escapes to the family summerhouse by the lake with her two sons, Ilmari and Unto. The peaceful holiday is disrupted when Leila invites some friends over for a rowdy weekend. After the party, Leila asks the charismatic and unpredictable writer Aimo to stay for a few days. The 19-year-old Ilmari has an uncomfortably close relationship with his mother, at times acting as her personal bodyguard, and he becomes hostile to Aimo with violent consequences. Variety praises THE GOOD SON for “nimbly traversing an unpredictable arc from in-joke biz satire to darker terrain.” The film won the Gold Hugo for the New Directors Competition at the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival.
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PEGASUS
PEGASUS plays at 2:00pm at Plaza Frontenac Cinema
In this visually striking, award-winning psychological thriller, Zineb is an emotionally exhausted psychiatrist assigned to Rihana, a traumatized and pregnant young woman found in the street muttering unintelligibly about “The Lord of the Horse.” A flashback reveals the origins of Rihana’s trauma: Her dictatorial father, horseman chief of his tribe, has raised her as the son his legacy demands, trapping the girl in a prison of parental delusion. Only when Rihana falls in love with a young man is she able to carve out the beginnings of an independent life. In treating Rihana, Zineb finds that her story awakens repressed thoughts in his own troubled mind, and he becomes increasingly lost in a haunted fever-dream of fear and denial.
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SHUN LI AND THE POET
SHUN LI AND THE POET plays at 4:30pm at the 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.
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THREE STARS
THREE STARS plays at 7:15pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Focusing on 10 Michelin Guide 3-star chefs, “Three Stars” depicts the everyday drama of life in gourmet restaurants and includes exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access to some of the world’s most talented chefs as they work in their gastronomic laboratories, hunt for exquisite ingredients in local markets, and gather rare edible plants along rough coastlines. The film reveals the business of cooking on the highest level and highlights the various kitchen routines and culinary philosophies of chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Yannick Alléno, and Olivier Roellinger. “The dishes dazzle in THREE STARS, a cinematic helping of some of the world’s finest restaurants — and of their chefs’ opinions,” says the New York Times. “Serious foodies will chow down.”

Shown with:
Look to the Cookie

A baker prepares the daily goods at his family’s 100- year-old business in Manhattan and reflects on the importance of community.

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P-047

P-047 plays at 9:30pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Lek is a lonely locksmith who’s never had a girlfriend. Kong is an aspiring writer who lives with his mom. Working side-by-side at the shopping mall – one copying keys, the other selling tabloid magazines – the two misfits hatch a plan that combines their talents. Breaking into apartments during the day while the owners are at work, Lek and Kong don’t steal anything; instead, they borrow the lives, the loves, and the possessions of the residents. One day, however, the pair borrows more than they bargained for, and an injured Lek wakes up in a hospital. To his confusion, everyone calls him Kong. After his release, Lek attempts to understand what’s occurred by breaking into his friend’s home, where he discovers revealing secrets. But the mystery of Kong’s whereabouts hauntingly remains.

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BOOSTER

BOOSTER plays at 2:15pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

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.”

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OLDIES BUT GOODIES

OLDIES BUT GOODIES plays at 4:15pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

Former teacher Ota has turned a bit whimsical in his old age, complicating the lives of his son and daughter-in-law. Faced with a major surgery, Ota avoids the operation and impulsively decides that the time is right to check an item off his bucket list by tracking down the great actress Jana, who had influenced his life many years ago. When he finally meets Jana, however, the result is much different than he’d imagined. The vital, headstrong actress is dismayed at how old age has diminished her, and her situation inspires Ota to live his life again. Their meeting persuades both of them that the worst thing one can do is give up, and they set out together on an ambitious road trip to win Jana an audition in Prague.

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WAR WITCH

WAR WITCH plays at 7:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

After her village is burned down by rebels and her parents are killed, Komona is forced into the jungle as a child soldier. Her brutal commander not only trains her in the use of arms but also orders her to sleep with him. Searching for shelter, Komona turns to Magician, a slightly older boy, and they fall in love. After the pair escapes from the camp, Komona attempts to return to her village – she desperately wants to bury her parents and prevent their eternal wandering of the wasted land as ghosts. Shot in the Congo with a nonprofessional cast of actors, “War Witch” vividly depicts the horrors of civil war and the suffering of children and civilians. The film won the World Narrative Competition at Tribeca, and Rachel Mwanza’s lead performance was honored at both Tribeca and Berlin. WAR WITCH is the official Canadian submission for the 2013 Academy Awards.

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THIS IS NOT A FILM

THIS IS NOT A FILM plays at 9:00pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema

After openly supporting the opposition party in Iran’s 2009 election, renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi (“Offside,” “The Circle”) received a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and conducting interviews with foreign press. Because of those restrictions, “This Is Not a Film” was secretly shot on an iPhone and a modest DV camera by Panahi’s close friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb; it was then smuggled into France in a cake for a last-minute submission to Cannes. Depicting the day-to-day life of the director during his house arrest in his Tehran apartment, THIS IS NOT A FILM shows Panahi talking to his family and lawyer on the phone, discussing his plight with Mirtahmasb, and reflecting on the meaning of the art of filmmaking. The Washington Post praises the film as “an urgent, affecting self-portrait of an artist who can’t help but frame his world, and try to make sense of an oppressive and absurd system around him.”

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3 DAYS OF NORMAL

3 DAYS OF NORMAL plays at 7:00pm at the Hi-Pointe Theatre

n this charming romantic comedy, Bill Morgan (Jace McLean) is a small-town sheriff whose self-imposed rules have kept him in Washington, N.H., for his entire life. A stickler for perfection and abiding by the rules, Bill’s singular ambition is to keep order for himself and those around him. But everything changes when It Girl movie starlet Nikki Gold (Mircea Monroe, Episodes, Magic Mike), who has briefly escaped the bright lights and paparazzi of New York City, is found passed out in her rental car by none other than Bill – who has absolutely no idea who she is. In an effort to avoid the chaos of yet another publicity scandal, Nikki embraces the anonymity for a few blissful days of normalcy. Shot on location in New Hampshire against a picturesque, fall-colored backdrop,3 DAYS OF NORMAL follows Bill and Nikki during three magical days as they find themselves relying on one another to face their own personal challenges.

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BERSERK GOLDEN ARC 1: EGG OF THE SUPREME RULER

BERSERK GOLDEN ARC 1: EGG OF THE SUPREME RULER plays at 9:30pm at the Hi-Pointe Theatre

In this hyper-violent anime – adapted from legendary artist Kentaro Miura’s manga – lone swordsman Guts wanders in the dark shadows of the medieval ages. Moving from conflict to conflict and wielding a giant blade, Guts leaves behind a trail of blood as vivid evidence of his inner wrath. When he’s confronted by a man called Griffith, this lone wolf is forcibly enlisted into his opponent’s army after losing a duel. Within the ragtag mercenary company known as the Band of the Hawk, Guts slowly learns the value of comradeship and his rage subsides, but Griffith’s ambition to become king threatens everyone. BERSERK GOLDEN ARC 1: EGG OF THE SUPREME RULER is the work of Studio4°C, whose work includes Memories (1995), Mind Game (2003), Tekkon Kinkree (2006), and segments of the Wachowskis’ The Animatrix.

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IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY

IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY plays at 7:00pm at Webster U./Moore

Cult animator and Academy Award nominee Don Hertzfeldt has combined his three short films about a troubled man named Bill – Everything Will Be OK (2006), I Am So Proud of You (2008), andIT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (2011) – into a seamless, beautiful, darkly comedic new feature film. Nearly two years in the making, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” is Hertzfedt’s longest and most ambitious film to date, blending traditional animation, experimental optical effects, trick photography, and new digital hybrids printed out one frame at a time. “There is a moment in each installment of Don Hertzfeldt’s masterful trilogy of animated shorts where you feel something in your chest,” writes Steven Pate in the Chicagoist. “It’s an unmistakably cardiac event, the kind that great art can elicit when something profound and undeniably true is conveyed about the human condition.”

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St. LOUIS FILMMAKERS SHOWCASE SHORTS 1

St. LOUIS FILMMAKERS SHOWCASE SHORTS 1 plays at 9:15pm at Webster U./Moore

A diverse sampling of the best short films from the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.

180
(Zlatko Cosic, 2 min.): Images from 180 different video pieces are combined to form a new visual structure.
And/Or
(Van McElwee, 7 min.): A wandering figure traces tunnels through a space of possibilities.
Birds on a Wire
(Virginia Lee Hunter, 3 min.): A meditative look at blackbirds at rest and in motion.
Certiorare
(Audra DeMariano, 4 min.): Conflict and resolution are demonstrated through dance, color, and sound.
The Current
(Thomas Malkowicz, 3 min.): Two brothers who have visited and enjoyed the Current River all their lives hope to preserve it for the future.
Elans
(Zlatko Cosic, 2 min.): An exploration of water and light as essential elements of life.
Elm
(Mike McCubbins, 5 min.): 200 years in the life of a patch of forest.
Fitting
(Larry Ziegelman, 13 min.): Two female rivals wind up in the same bridal gown fitting room – one with a bridesmaid’s dress and one with a wedding gown.
Interview Date
(Mike Lemcke, 12 min.): Adam desperately needs a job, and Becca needs a dedicated new employee. Olivia is looking for love, and Charlie opens himself up to the possibility of dating. A classic tale of mistaken identity ensues.
Lover’s Lookout
(Adam Huber, 7 min.): A young couple becomes entangled in a gun-slinging love triangle that will put their relationship to the test.
Maison Des Reveurs
(Rita Hunt, 5 min.): The nature of our life depends on the flight of our imagination.
Mama
(Sarah Worner, 2 min.): Stop-motion animation about a mother’s passing made entirely of flowers, corn husks, and found foliage.
Sea of Doubt
(Brett Marren, 4 min.): A surrealistic journey through a relationship in which a house floods and garments of clothing turn into a sea creature.
A Senior Moment
(Michelle Davidson, 6 min.): What happens when the latest technology is embraced by a group of retirees?
Spectacles
(Tyler DePerro, 9 min.): A struggling actor gets inspiration for success from a pair of 3D glasses given to him by his grandfather.
A Story to Tell
(Scott Huegerich, 5 min.): A vignette of St. Louisan Damon Davis, a multidisciplinary artist who is driven to create work to tell a story or express a feeling.
Timber Dream
(Hannah Radcliff, 3 min.): A lone tree dreams about movement.
Trope
(Zlatko Cosic, 5 min.): Abstract images and sounds signify the ongoing ecological damages occuring on planet Earth.
Viscosity
(Paul von Stoetzel, 7 min.): After the bars close one night, three men share stories about masturbation.

 

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