Cinema St. Louis and St. Louis Public Radio are proud to co-present Best of Shorts, a virtual screening of a selection of the award-winning short films from the 2019 Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) and 2019 Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. In addition to the films, the event will feature an interview with Marshall Curry, director of “The Neighbor’s Window,” which won this year’s Academy Award for Best Live Action Short.

The program will be streamed for free at 7 pm Friday, July 31, on St. Louis Public Radio’s Twitch channel. Register for the event at stlpublicradio.org/events/.

Twitch is a live-stream video platform owned by Amazon. It’s like YouTube, but all the videos are live, so the experience is different at any given time. Twitch’s popularity started with video gamers and e-sports players, but many people join Twitch to chat or to live stream events.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has long sanctioned SLIFF’s shorts competition as a pre-screening event for the Academy Awards. The winners in four categories of SLIFF’s juried shorts programming (Best of Fest, Best Animation, Best Live Action, and Best Documentary) are eligible to submit their films directly to the Academy for Oscar consideration.

St. Louis Public Radio is an award-winning news organization and NPR member station, providing in-depth news, insightful discussion, and entertaining programs to more than a half-million people per month on-air and online. With a large, St. Louis-based newsroom and reporters stationed in Jefferson City and Rolla, Mo., and Belleville, Ill., the station’s journalists find and tell important stories about communities across the region and help people to become deeply informed about the issues that affect their lives. Broadcasting on 90.7 KWMU FM in St. Louis, 90.3 WQUB in Quincy, Ill., 88.5 KMST in Rolla, and 96.3 K242AN in Lebanon, Mo., and sharing news and music online at stlpublicradio.org, St. Louis Public Radio is a member-supported service of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The following short films will be screened during this event:

Bodies Like Oceans

KC Cory, U.S., 2019, 13 min., documentary, adult content (language and nudity)

A dreamy portrait of photographer Shoog McDaniel, a self-described queer fat freak, whose work with fat bodies in nature transgresses reality. Best Documentary Less Than 20 Minutes at the 2019 Showcase.

Charon

Cullen Parr, U.S., 2019, 12 min., documentary

A profile of Myron Dyal, a California artist with temporal-lobe epilepsy who creates striking paintings, drawings, and sculptures inspired by the visions he has during his seizures. Best Documentary Short at the 2019 SLIFF.

Grab My Hand: A Letter to My Dad

Camrus Johnson & Pedro Piccinini, U.S., 2019, 5 min., animated narrative

A touching and personal exploration of the relationship between the filmmaker’s father and his best friend. Best Short Short at the 2019 SLIFF.

Miller & Son

Asher Jelinsky, U.S., 2018, 21 min., live-action narrative

A transwoman mechanic runs her family’s auto shop during the day and expresses her femininity at night, but an unforeseen event threatens the balance of her compartmentalized life. Best Live Action Short at the 2019 SLIFF.

The Neighbors’ Window Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short

The Neighbors’ Window

Marshall Curry, U.S., 2019, 20 min., live-action narrative, adult content (language and brief nudity)

A middle-aged woman with small children has her life shaken up when two free-spirited twentysomethings move in across the street. Academy Award winner as Best Live Action Short and Best of Fest Short at 2019 SLIFF.

St. Louis Superman

Sami Khan & Smriti Mundhra, U.S., 2019, 28 min., documentary, adult content (strong language)

A profile of Bruce Franks Jr., the 34-year-old battle rapper, Ferguson activist, and former Missouri state representative. Academy Award nominee as Best Documentary Short and Best Local Short at 2019 SLIFF.

Two

Emre Okten, U.S., 2019, 6 min., animated narrative

Two robots discover the value of their friendship as a decades-long mission to the sun comes to an end. Best Animated Short at 2019 SLIFF.

The Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, an annual presentation of the nonprofit Cinema St. Louis (CSL), serves as the area’s primary venue for films made by local artists. The Showcase screens works that were shot in the St. Louis region or were written, directed, or produced by St. Louis-area residents or by filmmakers with strong local ties who are now working elsewhere. 

Because of the Covid-19 health crisis, the Showcase will be presented virtually in 2020. CSL is partnering with Eventive, which also handles our ticketing, to present the Virtual Festival. Films will be available to view on demand anytime from July 10-19. There are no geographic limits on accessing the programs. Once a ticket-holder begins watching a program, access remains available for 48 hours. 

The Showcase’s 15 film programs range from full-length fiction features and documentaries to multi-film compilations of fiction and documentary shorts. Most programs will feature recorded Q&As with filmmakers, which will also be available on CSL’s YouTube channel.

In addition to the film programs, which will be available for streaming anytime during the July 10-19 run of the Showcase, this year’s event features a series of free master classes focused on key aspects of making and marketing an independent narrative feature. These will be offered as live streams at specific times/dates during the Showcase, but recordings of the presentations will also be archived and available on the CSL YouTube channel. A free live stream on the evening of July 19 will present the Showcase jury awards — including a $500 prize to the Best Showcase Film — and announce the films that will move on to the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival in November.

This year’s Showcase includes the following:

  • America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill: A documentary feature by Joseph Puleo that explores the deep historic roots of the Hill, St. Louis’ iconic Italian neighborhood.
  • The Ballad of John Henry: A documentary feature by Matthew Rice that analyzes how an ex-slave became one of America’s greatest tall-tale heroes: John Henry. 
  • College Bound: A documentary feature by Jenna Gandolfo that chronicles a diverse group of Ritenour High School students as they overcome an array of obstacles to be accepted into some of the top universities in the country. 
  • Doc Shorts Programs: The first of the two programs focuses on food, wine, and nature, and the second is anchored by Post-Dispatch columnist Aisha Sultan’s “33 and Counting,” a true-crime story about a 70-year-old grandmother serving a life sentence for a murder she says her rapist committed. 
  • Easy-Bake: A narrative feature by writer-director-star Zoë Kennison — a Webster U. grad — in which a 22-year-old college student is informed by her doctor that she is on an unexpected biological clock: Because of a medical issue, she has only one year to conceive a child. 
  • Master Classes: A series of four free master classes — featuring filmmakers and industry professionals — focused on key aspects of making an independent narrative feature: Finding Financing (July 11), Developing a Budget (July 12), Casting (July 18), and Securing Distribution (July 19).
  • My Ireland: A documentary feature by Anthony Monaghan, a working-class immigrant now living in St. Louis, that takes a hard look at the rampant emigration, mass evictions, and homeless crisis that plague his homeland of Ireland today.
  • Narrative Shorts Programs: The 56 films in the six programs include comedies, dramas, thrillers, and experimental works.
  • Resolution: A narrative feature by former St. Louisan Jacob T. Martin in which a tight-knit group of friends gathered for a New Year’s Eve party have their night of celebration descend into chaos when the host couple breaks up.
  • Wake Up: A documentary feature by Nate Townsend that weaves together stories from four different frontlines of suicide prevention across the country. The film premiered at We Are One: A Global Film Festival.

The Whitaker Foundation again serves as the Showcase’s title sponsor. The foundation’s twofold mission is to encourage the preservation and use of parks and to enrich lives through the arts. The Chellappa-Vedavalli Foundation is underwriting both the Showcase’s master classes and the $500 prize for the Best Showcase Film.

The event’s other sponsors include the Arts & Education Council, Grizzell & Co., Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Film Office, Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis Public Radio, and Washington University Film & Media Studies.

Instagram@stlfilmshowcase Twitter: @stlfilmshowcase Facebook@STLFilmmakersShowcase

For more information, the public should visit cinemastlouis.org

Stay home and still get your Q on!

To help celebrate Pride Month, the 13th Annual QFest St. Louis — presented by Cinema St. Louis (CSL) — will take place from June 19-28. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, CSL will offer all programs virtually, protecting the health of patrons. Programs can be streamed at any time during the festival’s dates. Recorded and live introductions and Q&As will be available for most film programs.

The St. Louis-based LGBTQ film festival, QFest will present a record number of 40 films (28 shorts, six narrative features, and six documentary features). The participating filmmakers represent a wide variety of voices in contemporary queer world cinema. The mission of the film festival is to use the art of contemporary gay cinema to spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people and to celebrate queer culture.

The fest is especially pleased to host the St. Louis premiere of the new bio-doc “The Capote Tapes,” about renowned novelist, playwright, and social butterfly Truman Capote (“In Cold Blood,” Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). Among the other QFest highlights is this year’s Q Classic, the 20th anniversary of Del Shore’s “Sordid Lives,” which first screened locally at the 2000 St. Louis International Film Festival.

Two films were directed by alums of QFest. Cindy Abel (“Breaking Through”) returns with the doc feature “Surviving the Silence,” about two closeted military women who were involved in the ultimate dismissal of Army Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer for admitting she was a lesbian. Two-time alum Wendy Jo Carlton (“Hannah Free,” “Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together”) directed the romantic dramedy “Good Kisser” and produced the narrative short that precedes it, “Carol Support Group.”

Several films this year have strong local connections, including a trio of projects featuring former St. Louisans: writer/co-star Gretchen Wylder’s hilarious new YouTube web series, “These Thems”; writer/co-star Kevin Spirtas’ award-winning and moving dramatic web series, “After Forever”; and the dramatic short “Bill & Robert,” which stars Brandon Smith.

Thanks to several generous sponsors, CSL is able to make the festival more accessible to all by offering five shows that will be free and open to the public for the duration of the event: all four shorts programs and the web series “These Thems.”

These Thems

For the full schedule of screenings and events, including trailers and descriptions of the films, visit the festival website at www.cinemastlouis.org/qfest.

The 2020QFest St. Louis begins on Friday, June 19, and runs through Sunday, June 28. Tickets go on sale June 1. Tickets are $10 each or $8 for Cinema St. Louis members, students with valid and current IDs, and ARTS Card holders. An all-access festival pass is available for $75. All screenings will be held virtually for residents of Missouri and Illinois via Eventive, CSL’s ticketing and online presentation partner. Direct ticket links are available on the QFest website.

QFest St. Louis is sponsored by AARP in St. Louis, Arts & Education Council, CheapTRX, Grizzell & Co., Missouri Arts Council, Panera Bread, Bob Pohrer & Donnie Engle, Regional Arts Commission, Deb Salls, St. Louis Public Radio, Cindy Walker, and Webster U. Film Series.

The festival is underwritten in part through a grant from the Creative Impact Fund for Diversifying the Arts, a partnership between the Arts & Education Council and local community leaders.

Social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/QFestSTL

Twitter: @QFestSTL

Instagram: @QFestSTL