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 continuing Covid-19 health crisis, the Showcase will again be presented virtually in 2021. CSL will once more partner with Eventive on the virtual festival. Filmswill be available to view on demand anytime from July 16-25. There are no geographic limits on access. Once a ticket-holder begins watching a program, access remains available for 48 hours.
The Showcase’s 15 film programs range from narrative and documentary features to multi-film compilations of fiction and documentary shorts. Feature programs will include recorded Q&As with filmmakers, which will also be available on CSL’s YouTube channel. In addition to the film programs, this year’s event will feature four free master classes focused on key aspects of filmmaking. These will be offered as livestreams at specific times/dates during the Showcase.
The July 25 closing-night awards presentation will be either an in-person outdoor party or a livestream. Visit the CSL website for updated info. Announced during the event will be nearly two dozen Showcase jury awards — including a $500 prize to the Best Showcase Film. Cinema St. Louis staff will also announce the films that will move on to the 30th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival in November.
The 102 films and four master classes in this year’s Showcase will be available to be seen worldwide and include the following:
- Animated and Experimental Shorts: More than two dozen animated and experimental works will be presented in two colorful shorts programs.
- The Balancing Act: Circus Harmony’s Jessica Henthoff directed this charming peek behind the curtains at how current and former performers coped during the pandemic.
- Doc Shorts: Two illuminating and thoughtful documentary-short programs feature a wide range of stories and subjects.
- The Final 19: Director Tim Breitbach tells the astonishing true story of Sgt. Dan Hefel, one of the final 19 prisoners of war to come home from Vietnam.
- House of Thunder: Paul Schankman produced this fascinating documentary about a pivotal but little-known Revolutionary War battle.
- Indians, Outlaws, Marshals and the Hangin’ Judge: Director Larry Foley uses a first-person re-creation of an account written by St. Louis Republic reporter Ada Patterson to tell the story of infamous “hangin’ judge” Isaac Parker.
- Interrobang: This sexy, “adults only” comedy anthology was directed by former St. Louisan Paige Feldman, who was an intern for the St. Louis Film Office when it produced the very first St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase in 2000.
- Master Classes: A series of four free master classes — featuring filmmakers and industry professionals — focused on key aspects of filmmaking: Special and Visual Effects (July 17), Cinematography (July 18), Sound (July 24), and Historical Documentary (July 25).
- Narrative Shorts: Five eclectic narrative-short programs include comedies, dramas, horror films, and thrillers.
- Once a Hero: Showcase alum Tim Reischauer directed this poignant drama about a veteran haunted by his PTSD.
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., Joni Tackette Casting, Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Film Office, Regional Arts Commission, and St. Louis Public Radio.
For more information, the public should visit cinemastlouis.org.
Photo from short “Postcards” by Ashley Seering