Like with all of the St. Louis International Film Festivals (SLIFF), the 26th version makes it very easy again to be overwhelmed by the number of films presented. Ready for this year’s astounding stats?
Over 2400 submissions, plus a few hundred films from distributors, sales agents and studios.
After careful vetting, these are the winners:
372 films from 64 countries
When I introduce SLIFF to someone who is not familiar with it, I tell them that this is a fantastic way to travel the world and a rare chance to watch films that will possibly never reappear in St. Louis (nor possibly in the US)…
… even if they are masterpieces!
And every year, such pieces make their way to SLIFF,
UNFORGETTABLE FILMS! (…)
“The film never can tell the truth, the truth is always unbearable.” — Ai Weiwei. My review: “Many words like ‘humanitarian crisis’ or ‘refugees’ conceal great human tragedies; the news channels remind us daily that despair is at our doors but everything remains abstract – overall we do not know. With the type of fearlessness that landed him in jail, the internationally renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai WeiWei, insists though, as he often does, that we face reality, however disturbing it may be.
As someone whose family was exiled within China – like Tarkovsky, his father was a famous poet – Ai knows his topic well. But he is aware that the crisis is global – the result: a monument of a film, 23 countries in 140 minutes (out of 900 hours of footage) […]
An interview with Pier Marton, translated from the Spanish. Excerpts: “what follows does not represent ideas but stands for a lived-through experience — something which by definition can neither be communicated nor argued with… what needs to be unlearned is beyond our grasp… it is by becoming somebody that one crowns a successful education — self-distinction, self-inflation are inculcated from the start… what is being discussed here corresponds to the very same silence that Rimbaud and Gauguin may have experienced through their exiles, or through death’s notorious silence… It should be evident that when something tragic takes place, words are failing us. Those crises contain a form of wisdom and clarity which would be good to apply during our “normal” states — not only during those dramatic transitions, when we don’t know what is happening. We actually never know what is happening and, in finding speech inadequate, words should always fail us. […]
On January 1st, World-Wide Wishful Thinking Day, the Grand Opening of the School of No Media! Excerpts from the front-page: “We live as if tomorrow did not exist, ignoring the imminent oblivion that awaits us all… but it does not stop there. The fact that experience is not transmissible compounds all of our mistakes, and our planet steadily falls apart. Full of wishful thinking, we want to believe… but nothing is a surprise anymore. What we know strangles us: reality is off limits and immediacy has gone. Our universe is built up to the extent that alienation, separation, isolation – and for some of us, exile – have become the very fabric of our existence, the only turf we inhabit.
Both centrality and normalcy as a whole are two of our major hoaxes, but again it goes further: like some kind of tautological monstrosity, we are so full of ourselves, we have become the victims of our own centrality” […]
The best St. Louis International Film Festival in memory! Three of my favorite films: “In Transit” – The last of the great direct cinema documentary filmmakers, the recently deceased Albert Maysles (Salesman, Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Running Fence…)… an eloquent love letter to humanity.
With a rarely seen fragility and gentleness, this tour de force of a film allows us to sense how precious each life is. Each individual’s aspirations and vulnerability is magically brought to light: one of the most touching film experience at this festival! — “The Fool/Durak” – … In the midst of the squalor of a small Russian town, through its understated acting and gritty realism, a suspense as worthy as that of a James Bond film, slowly but surely, takes shape. How institutions and the self-serving individuals that populate them can hold onto their morally bankrupt power… — “Embrace of the Serpent” – By following their actual diaries, this sumptuous and sensual film – some would call it an hallucinatory trip – pays tribute to two explorers and their guides as they venture into unknown regions of Colombia. One of the most astonishing and luminous film at the St. Louis International Film Festival! […]