I sometimes miss access to smaller films here in St. Louis, so an annual saving grace is the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). This excellent showcase for independent and foreign features arrives each November just as the weather's starting to turn cold. What can be better than using this time to check out movies on the big screen? During this 20th year of SLIFF, I'll be covering as many films as possible and posting about them shortly afterwards. An added bonus is having the filmmakers present for discussions with the audience after the screenings. The films are a mix of familiar titles from festivals like Toronto and lesser-known entries that are new to me. I'm hoping to catch a mixture of the buzz-worthy movies and the smaller choices.
First of all, there is a strong crop of "big" films spread out across the 11 days of the festival. I know many of these will be hitting a local theater later this year, but I plan to check out a few of these choices:
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes)
Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
I Melt with You (Mark Pellington)
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (Jay and Mark Duplass)
Shame (Steve McQueen)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
The Interrupters (Steve James)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay)
Along with the more recognizable movies, I plan to check out more obscure films that likely won't reach theaters anytime soon. Here are some examples that I may try to see:
Andrew Bird: Fever Year (2011, Aranda): I'm a huge fan of Andrew Bird's music, so this concert documentary feels right up my alley. I'm excited to find out about how he creates the remarkable live shows and discover more on his background.
Chico and Rita (2010, Trueba, Mariscal, and Errando): This Spanish animated drama takes place in pre-revolution Cuba and presents a romance backed by jazz and Cuban music. It appears to be an adult story with an impressive visual style, which is right up my alley.
Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson (2010, Dolman): I watched the first two seasons of Whale Wars and have mixed feelings about Paul Watson. I agree with his goals but feel like his approach (and huge ego) sometimes gets in the way of his success. That said, I'm intriguing to learn more about this strong-willed guy.
Eleanor's Secret (2009, Monfery): This French animated film has an exciting premise and style. A young boy finds a library in the attic where fairy-tale characters come to life.
Karaoke Man (2011, Petty): My interest in this movie might just relate to the title because I love karaoke. This story also involves a comics-book store and an Eastern European superhero costume, so it sounds quirky enough to deserve a chance.
My Comic Shop DocumentARy (2011, Desiato): This look at a comic-book shop and its customers sounds fun and could be a nice respite from the festival's heavier material.
Outrage (2011, Kitano): Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Kitano returns to his roots with this yakuza film. I'm expecting a lot of blood in this movie, which is near the top of my list.
Shuffle (2011, Kuene): I love time-travel films, and the premise for this film is intriguing. The lead character of this American indie film is experiencing his life out of order and keeps waking up at a different age each day.
The Wildcat (1921, Lubitsch): This rarely seen silent film from the renowned German director Ernst Lubitsch is being screened with live accompaniment from the Rats and People Motion Picture Orchestra.
The Woman in the Fifth (2011, Pawlikowski): This crime thriller stars Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas and takes place in Paris, which is enough for me. It also looks like an interesting genre film with a mysterious female lead at the center of the mystery.
Have you seen any of these films at your own local festivals? If so, which of these should I definitely check out? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the "can't miss" choices.