Teeming with archetypes brought to vivid life, the film "Mud" particularizes a crisis in 14-year-old Ellis' progress toward maturity. Ellis sneaks away from his family's Arkansas houseboat to meet up with his pal Neckbone. Ellis wants to show him a boat stranded in a tree on a Mississippi River island where they also find the fugitive Mud hiding out.
What does a respected member of a tight-knit community do when he finds himself erroneously charged with inappropriate sexual behavior with his best friend's five-year-old daughter Klara? For 40-year-old Danish kindergarten worker Lucas, the answer is a devastatingly intense emotional reaction when his colleagues and neighbors doubt him in "The Hunt," an emotionally confrontational and psychologically astute film.
Approaching its crisis from a reportorial perspective, the Danish film "A Hijacking" immediately establishes its two contrasting, central characters isolated in their strikingly different environments. In the opening scenes, Peter, CEO of an international shipping company, unemotionally and firmly negotiates a business deal with a Japanese team while Mikkel, cook on the cargo ship Rozen, jokes with his co-workers.
The 13th Annual Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase takes over the Tivoli from July 14th through the 18th, featuring a diverse collection of increasingly impressive local talent. Fifteen different programs offer 91 films running from a few minutes to feature length, stretching from animation and avant-garde works to documentaries and fictional narratives.
The likable, Israeli Palestinian surgeon Amin Jaafari lives and works in Tel Aviv. A skilled professional, Amin dearly loves his wife Siham, is acknowledged with an unprecedented medical award from his Jewish friends, and leads a productive, professional life. It will be shattered when police inform him of a suicide bombing killing 17 people plus his wife, the bomber.
Mainstream films avoid politically charged topics, reluctant to alienate any potential audience. By refreshing contrast, "The East" makes no bones about its eco-terrorism agenda from the opening seconds to the closing credits. Though it doesn't explicitly attack real corporations' environmental destruction, it does attack the immorality and hypocrisy of the fictionalized self-indulgent wealthy who kill and maim.
The Classic French Film Festival concludes its annual celebration from Thursday, June 27th through Sunday, June 30th at Webster University. The five different programs present a diversity of styles and topics in five feature films and one short subject. Director Francois Truffaut is represented with two films; Pierre Étaix, Max Ophuls and Jean-Pierre Melville with one each.
The Sixth Annual QFest runs June 6th through 9th at Webster University. Its mission, as defined by Cinema St. Louis, is "to use the art of contemporary gay cinema to illustrate the diversity of the LGBTQ community and to explore the complexities of living an alternative lifestyle." The 10 features and nine shorts certainly meet that goal.
The French Film Festival continues its second week, Thursday, June 20th through Sunday, June 23rd at Webster University. The four different programs include feature films and one short subject. Directors Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette are well known, Raymond Bernard less so, and Pierre Étaix a new discovery thanks to a restoration of his films believed lost forever.
The Fifth Annual Classic French Film Festival begins Thursday, June 13th and runs through Sunday, June 30th at Webster University. Thirteen different programs include feature-length films from the 1920s to the 1970s, with four restored masterpieces and seven new 35-millimeter prints. Different film scholars and critics will introduce each program and lead discussions after the screenings.