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Thursday, 10 November 2011 00:00

A Wealth of Films at the St. Louis Film Fest

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Written by Diane Carson
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The 20th annual St. Louis International Film Festival begins spectacularly Thursday, November 10th at the Tivoli with The Artist. Impressively executed and immensely entertaining, The Artist charts the fading career of silent film star George Valentin juxtaposed with the rise of Peppy Miller. St. Louisan John Goodman plays film director Zimmer in this gorgeous, masterful black-and-white homage to silent film.

Following that opening night, from November 10th through the 20th, film lovers have more than 400 films from over 40 countries from which to choose at various venues, primarily Landmark's Tivoli and Plaza Frontenac cinemas, Washington University's Brown Hall and Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium. Narrative features and shorts and documentaries of all stripes offer diverse topics and genres. There are also several special events and numerous specified sidebars, including American Independent, African-American, African, Human Rights, Animation, Environmental, Jewish and Interfaith.

Of the several films I've sampled that appear in the first half of the festival, a few stand out. Scottish director Lynne Ramsey's We Need to Talk about Kevin stars a magnificent Tilda Swinton as a mother who cannot bond with her difficult son. With John C. Reilly as the father, the performances shine through a fractured time frame that dramatizes experiences seldom showcased. The Athlete dramatizes the real-life story of Abebe Kikila, the Ethiopian barefoot runner who won the marathon gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics but dealt with tragedy later in his life.

Young Goethe in Love follows the young Johann Goethe in love and in trouble with his father. Romantic and idealistic during the early 1770s, Goethe writes his heralded The Sorrows of Young Werther based on events dramatized in this film with high production values. Tyrannosaur showcases the brilliant Peter Mullan as an unemployed alcoholic who becomes involved with an abused wife.

Animator Bill Plympton will received the Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday, November 11th, and documentarian Steve James, of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters fame, accepts the Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary on Sunday. The wealth of films is exhilarating and the only problem is choosing. For much more information, times, and tickets, you may access the website cinemastlouis.org.

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