Cinema St. Louis is thrilled to unveil the 32nd Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), set to captivate audiences from November 9th to 19th at the historic Hi-Pointe Theatre, CSL’s new forever home, as well as at multiple venues across the city including the Alamo Drafthouse, Webster University, Washington University and more.

CSL’s centerpiece event, is a world-class international film festival that exhibits films from around the globe and attracts between 25,000 and 31,000 patrons annually. Offering its 32nd edition in 2023, the fest presents 278 films over 11 days in November. Featured work includes shorts, documentaries, foreign-language works, American independents, restorations/revivals, and studio art-film releases.
More than 100 filmmakers, documentary subjects, scholars, and critics attend the fest, participating in post-film discussions, master classes, and seminars. In 2019, SLIFF was included among USA Today’s 10 Best Film Festivals.

Highlights of this year’s fest include:

  • SLIFF’s Opening Night Party on 11/9 at the Hi-Pointe, where the fest will celebrate 50 Years of Hip-Hop in St. Louis, as explored through both film and music
  • Signe Baumane on hand to accept this year’s Women in Film Award at a showing of her newest film, “My Love Affair with Marriage” on 11/11
  • La Passion de Dodin Bouffant” (Taste of Things), Cannes award winner for director Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024 and will screen on 11/12 at the Hi-Pointe Theatre
  • Director Alexander Payne to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, while showcasing not only his newest film on 11/14“The Holdovers,” but also his modern classic, “The Descendants,” on 11/15
  • A screening of The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award winner, “American Fiction,” on 11/17, directed and written by Cord Jefferson, co-starring St. Louis’s favorite son, Sterling K. Brown.
  • Highlighting the lives of the LGBTQ+ community, SLIFF’s QFest Spotlight Film“All of Us Strangers,” from Searchlight Pictures, the critically acclaimed romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh, starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy, will close the festival on 11/19
  • The festival will culminate on Sunday, November 19th, with the much-anticipated Awards Party, featuring an insightful conversation with Reginald Hudlin, during which he will be bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Reginald Hudlin

The festival kicks off on Thursday, November 9th, celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop with a tribute to the Hi-Pointe Cafe’s pivotal role in shaping hip-hop’s history, showcasing the city’s significant influence in its evolution. Attendees will be treated to a cocktail reception, engaging conversations, and a special screening of the 1990 film, “House Party,” directed by East St. Louis’ own, Reginald Hudlin.

CSL’s Executive Director, Bree Maniscalco, shared, “As we celebrate our first festival at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, we wanted to pay tribute to the H-Pointe neighborhood and honor those who made Hip-Hop what it is today. Mondays at the Hi-Pointe Cafe holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and we’re looking to bring it back to kick things off in style for this year’s Fest.”

This year’s festival promises a variety of exclusive events, screenings, enlightening post-film Q&A sessions, and illuminating masterclasses dedicated to addressing industry-relevant topics. SLIFF received an impressive 2,419 submissions, marking the festival’s 32nd anniversary with record-breaking enthusiasm. SLIFF’s dedicated team of programmers, hailing from diverse backgrounds, meticulously curated a selection of 278 remarkable films that underscore the transformative power of cinema.

The lineup includes 54 captivating narrative features, 52 thought-provoking documentary features, and an astounding 172 short films, all part of its prestigious Oscar-qualifying annual Shorts Competition. These films delve deep into a spectrum of compelling themes, ranging from art, the environment, human rights, and racial equity, to name just a few. What’s more, they authentically represent perspectives from 32 countries, encompassing an astounding 39 native languages, ensuring that SLIFF remains a truly international celebration of storytelling through film.

The Holdovers


SLIFF serves as a cinematic beacon, illuminating the big screen with a diverse array of films that might otherwise remain hidden gems, waiting to be discovered by local audiences. As the festival unfolds, St. Louis becomes a vibrant hub for filmmakers from far and wide, with many making their inaugural visit to the city. In this dynamic atmosphere, the city buzzes with the infectious energy and passion that only the power of film can generate.

  • ●  Documentary Spotlight: Sponsored by Mary and Leon Strauss, this spotlight will screen 130 films, including “Sorry/Not Sorry,” an examination of Louis C.K.’s, comeback and the unseen effects of this on the women who spoke publicly about the sexual harassment accusations in 2017; “Chasing Chasing Amy,” the complex legacy of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997, also screening at SLIFF) on LGBTQ+ people and its life-saving impact on director Sav Rodgers; “We Dare to Dream,” follows athletes on their journey to become part of the refugee Olympic team; “Nathan-ism,” a tender portrayal of an artist’s distinctive viewpoint on his war assignment, coupled with his impassioned yearning for self-expression.; and “Omoiyari,” follows Kishi Bashi when a media interview links the Muslim ban and the immigration crisis at the USA-Mexico border with the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
  • ●  French Language Spotlight: Sponsored by the Jane M. and Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation, this spotlight will feature 16 feature and short films celebrating St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. Leading the spotlight is “La Passion de Dodin Bouffant” (Taste of Things), Cannes award winner for director Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.
  • ●  New Filmmakers Forum: SLIFF’s longest-running juried award, highlighting first-time narrative feature filmmakers whose works truly stand out.
  • ●  Oscar-Qualifying Shorts Competition: SLIFF is one of 63 Oscar-accredited short film competitions worldwide, making filmmakers who win a “Best of” at SLIFF, eligible for an Academy Award nomination.
    • ○  Across 11 documentary shorts programs, audiences will witness the global impact of art, the nuances of the Black experience, the damage done by society’s broken systems, the power of indigenous lands, the thrill of high-stakes sports, the state of the average workday, the importance of sustainability, the plight of immigrants worldwide, the spectrum of sexuality, the reality of living with disabilities, and the untold stories of remarkable St. Louisans.
    • ○  This year’s selection of narrative short films strives to highlight the vast array of global voices in contemporary cinema. Twenty languages are represented, and over half come from female filmmakers. Three highlights of the fifteen total programs are “Beyond Pedro,” a slate of shorts from emergent Spanish filmmakers, “Pan-Asia Stories,” and “Joy in Latinx Representation.” Elsewhere, adventurous genre fans will find new kinds of horror with “A New Kind of Blood” and eye-popping, mind-bending animation from around the world with “Transmission.” Of course, area films and filmmakers are well represented in the narrative shorts selections, with two programs featuring the best of the 2023 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, held by Cinema St. Louis this past summer.

Paul Mescal, Andrew Scott in “All of Us Strangers”
  • ●  QFest Spotlight: A collection of films that spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people while celebrating queer culture. Films include “All of Us Strangers,” from Searchlight Pictures, the critically acclaimed romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh, loosely based on the 1987 novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada. The film stars Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy; “Glitter & Doom,” a fantastical summer romance musical told with the iconic tunes of legendary American Folk music duo the Indigo Girls; and “Housekeeping for Beginners,” the Official submission of North Macedonia for the Best International Feature Film category of the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.
  • ●  Race in America Spotlight: For the last 10 years, SLIFF’s Race In America programming has reflected the frustrations of African Americans in response to the events in Ferguson. While this mission continues, the Spotlight will also draw attention to building community, fostering dialogue, and creating a platform for real societal change. To maximize these objectives, all of the 14 programs are offered for free thanks to support from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis. Films include “The Space Race,” which explores the experiences of the first Black astronauts through decades of archive film and interviews in a reflective illumination on the burden of breaking barriers; “Razing Liberty Square,” chronicling residents who fight to save their community from climate gentrification; “Ellis,” the first feature-length documentary about Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the Marsalis Music Family. This screening will pay tribute to the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch Theater Critic (former film critic), Calvin Wilson, with a portion of ticket proceeds donated to his alma mater, Northwest High School’s Performing Arts department; “Black Barbie,” the story behind the first Black Barbie; and “Kenyatta Do Not Wait Your Turn,” from Al Roker, an inspiring film that follows a self-described “poor, gay, Black man from North Philly” on his historic run for the U.S. Senate.

● Studio Spotlight: Star-filled highlights include “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt,” an American drama film, written and directed by Raven Jackson, starring Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Reginald Helms Jr., Zainab Jah, Sheila Atim, and Chris Chalk; “American Fiction,” an American satirical comedy-drama film directed and written by Cord Jefferson based on the 2001 novel Erasure by Percival Everett, starring Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Sterling K. Brown, Myra Lucretia Taylor, John Ortiz, Issa Rae, and Adam Brody; “The Holdovers,” an American comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, starring Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dominic Sessa; “Maxine’s Baby,” a documentary about Tyler Perry; and “Taste of Things,” (La Passion de Dodin Bouffant), directed by Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, is sure to leave audiences hungry for more and serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.

Alexander Payne: © Aristidis Vafeiadakis via ZUMA Wire)


SLIFF is pleased to honor the following for their incredible contributions to film:
● Reginald Hudlin, a distinguished American film screenwriter, director, producer, and accomplished comic-book writer, hails from the vibrant cultural tapestry of East St. Louis. His cinematic repertoire boasts an impressive array of works, including notable titles such as “Marshall,” “The Black Godfather,” and “Sidney,” each contributing to his renowned status in the industry. On the closing night of the SLIFF, which falls on Sunday, November 19thHudlin will engage in an enlightening interview, offering audiences a captivating insight into his illustrious career, and he will be bestowed with a highly deserved Lifetime Achievement Award, an accolade reflecting his enduring influence.

● Alexander Payne, a luminary in American cinema, is a prominent film director, screenwriter, and producer celebrated for his illustrious career, including directorial gems such as “Sideways,” “Election,” and “Nebraska,” each a testament to his mastery of the craft. On Tuesday, November 14th, at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, audiences will have the rare opportunity to delve into the creative genius of Payne with his latest cinematic creation, “The Holdovers.” This screening is an occasion to honor Payne with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. On Wednesday, November 15th, at the Hi-Pointe Theatre following a screening of his 2011 cinematic masterpiece, “The Descendants,” Payne will engage in an enlightening conversation, led by former CSL Executive Director Cliff Froehlich. In a poignant gesture of solidarity, a portion of the ticket sales from this screening will be donated to the Hawaii People’s Fund, an organization dedicated to offering direct aid in the aftermath of Maui’s wildfire devastation.

● Signe Baumane, an extraordinary talent from Latvia now rooted in the creative hub of Brooklyn, Baumane emerges as a multifaceted powerhouse in independent filmmaking, artistry, writing, and animation. With an illustrious career, she has crafted 16 acclaimed animated shorts that have earned her numerous awards and accolades, solidifying her place as a luminary in the field. Her groundbreaking animated feature debut, “Rocks in My Pockets,”

impressed SLIFF audiences in the past, and audiences this year will be entertained by her latest cinematic offering, “My Love Affair with Marriage.” Her film will screen at the Hi-Pointe Theatre on Saturday, November 11th, where she will be honored with the prestigious Women In Film Award, a testament to her unwavering dedication and the inspiring stories she brings to life through her craft.

American Fiction


Tickets are now on sale:

  • ●  All Access Pass (admits two): $500 / CSL Members $400
  • ●  VIP Pass (admits one): $350 / CSL Members $300
  • ●  20-Film Pass: $250 / CSL Members $200
  • ●  10-Film Pass: $130 / CSL Members $100
  • ●  6-Film Pass: $80 / CSL Members $60

Not a CSL Annual Member? In addition to discounts at SLIFF, members receive year-round benefits, sure to please every type of movie lover. Learn more and become a member here:


The festival will showcase films and special events across multiple centrally-located venues throughout the St. Louis area:

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, located at 3700 Forest Park Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63108 Arkadin Cinema & Bar, located at 5228 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116 Contemporary Art Museum, located at 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 The Foundry Art Center, located at 520 N Main Center, St Charles, MO 63301 Hi-Pointe Theatre, located at 1005 McCausland Ave., St. Louis, MO 63117

Hi-Pointe Backlot Theatre, located at 1002 Hi-Pointe Pl., St. Louis, MO 63117 St. Louis Public Central Library, located at 1301 Olive St., St. Louis, MO 63103

Washington University, Brown Hall Auditorium, located at Centennial Greenway, St. Louis, MO 63105

Webster University, Moore Auditorium, located at 470 East Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119


Title Sponsor: Whitaker Foundation

Sustaining Sponsors: Albrecht Family Foundation, Chellappa-Vedavalli Foundation, Coolfire Studios, Jane M. & Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation, Ward & Carol Klein, Nancy & Ken Kranzberg, Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Division of Tourism, Missouri Film Office, National Endowment for the Arts, Regional Arts Commission, Mary Strauss, Trio Foundation of St. Louis, William A. Kerr Foundation

Presenting Partners: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Arkadin Cinema & Bar, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Eventive, Film & Media Archive at Washington University Libraries, Film & Media Studies Program at Washington University, Foundry Art Centre, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis Public Radio, Webster University Film Series

More information about SLIFF can be found at

By Lynn Venhaus
What’s Poppin’ this Saturday? Here are our Popster Picks for the Bi-State Area (and beyond):

Live Theater: “Winds of Change” in Bevo Mill, presented by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. Free. LAST NIGHT.

One of my favorite things to do every September, Shake in the Streets this year is in my old stomping grounds. This year’s show is a delightful mix of music and comedy, performed with humor and heart.
It starts at 8 p.m. and will end about 9:20 p.m., without an intermission. There is local food and drink around the area, and it’s recommended that you come early. This is the last night, for it was performed Sept. 22 and 23 too.
The play, written by Deanna Jent, uses The Bard’s “The Comedy of Errors” as a foundation for a story on Bosnian immigrants’ contributions to St. Louis, is part of the “Shakespeare in the Streets” annual program. Come to the intersection of Gravois and Morganford, bring a lawn chair, and enjoy the spirited neighbors who love the transformed south city enclave. Lots of laughs and whoops from appreciative crowd (300 on opening night Thursday!)
Directed by Adam Flores, it features Ashwini Arora, Milly Burris, Hannah Geisz, Noah Later, Hady Matta, Youssef Matta, Colin McLaughlin, Brenda Morrison, Christina Rios, Rosario Rios-Kelley, Carly Uding and local denizens Father Mitch (Doyen, pastor of St. John the Baptist and Mark and Joani Akers of Oasis International. Edo Maajka plays the accordion and Nadja Kapetanovich performs a lullaby, “Nini Sine, Spavaj Sine.”
KTK Productions humorously explains the history of the Bevo Mill — Bill Bush, Aileen Kidwell, Chris Kidwell, Matthew Lewis, Jake Singer and Mike Singer III.
It took an army of folks to make the outdoor presentation happen. Kudos to producing artistic director Tom Ridgely, music direction and composition by Colin McLaughlin, music composition by Noah Laster, stage manager Kathryn Ballard, KTK Productions chair Joe McKenna, assistant director Miranda Jagels Felix, producer Colin O’Brien, set designer Dunsi Dai, costume designer Michele Friedman Siler, and lighting designer M. Bryant Powell.

Natalie Wood and James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause”

TV: “Rebel Without a Cause” on PBS Ch. 9, 9 p.m.
James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood gained stature for their roles as conflicted suburban middle-class teenagers in this 1955 American coming-of-age drama directed by Nicholas Ray, shot in the recently introduced CinemaScope format. It opened on Oct. 27, almost a month after top-billed Dean’s tragic death in a car accident on Sept. 30. It’s his most celebrated role, and followed his Oscar nominated performance in “East of Eden.”

Offering social commentary, it was considered groundbreaking for depiction of moral decay, delinquents, parenting and generational gaps. After all, it was adapted from Robert M. Lindner’s 1944 book, “Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath.”

Mineo, Wood and Ray all received Oscar nominations. In 1998, it was ranked #59 on AFI’s Hundred Years…Hundred Movies.

Fun Fact: The most famous line: “You’re tearing me apart” was lifted by writer-director-actor Tommy Wiseau for his 2003 cult film “The Room” (the worst movie I have ever seen, and also one of the most unintentionally funny movies).

Movie: “Sidney” streaming on Apple TV Plus.
The 2022 documentary “Sidney” on the great Sidney Poitier, directed by East St. Louis native Reginald Hudlin and produced by Oprah Winfrey. You’ll hear from Sidney, his family, friends, filmmakers and fans for an indelible portrait of the artist — as a movie star, mentor and activist.
I reviewed the film on KTRS (“Mueller Furniture Presents Lynn Venhaus Goes to the Movies”) Thursday with St. Louis In the Know host Ray Hartmann. Here’s the audio:

Stay tuned for an interview with Reginald Hudlin, coming soon in Belleville News-Democrat. I talked to the filmmaker Friday via Zoom.

Fun Fact: “In the Heat of the Night” was partially filmed in Sparta, Ill., which subbed for Sparta, Miss., and both Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger stayed in Belleville during the film of the 1967 film, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture (and Best Actor Steiger) in 1968.

Happening: Taste of St. Louis, Sept. 23-25, Ballpark Village, Free and open to the public.
Want to try Boardwalk Ice Cream and Waffles, Chicken Out, Hi-Pointe Drive-In, Kimchi Guys, Mission Taco Joint, Salt + Smoke, Steve’s Hot Dogs and Under the Sun SnoCones? Locally based brick and mortar food establishments can participate in Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row. There’s live music and other vendors that are part of the festivities. More info:

Fun Fact: On this day in 1952, Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first franchise in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Machine, El Hombre, Uncle Albert.

ICYMI Cardinals Nation: No. 5

Can’t get enough of Albert Pujols‘ magical night Sept. 23? Check out coverage on the St. Louis Cardinals MLB site: (and a wrap-up article on this website).

Fun Fact: On this day in 1922, St Louis Cardinals future Baseball Hall of Fame infielder Rogers Hornsby set the National League Home Run mark at 42. That season, he also had 52 RBI’s, a .401 average and 450 total bases.

Millie Bobby Brown

Latest Trailer to Watch: “Enola Holmes 2”
Millie Bobby Brown is back in another adventure as Sherlock Holmes’ teenager sister in the sequel dropping on Netflix Nov. 4. Enola takes on her first case as a detective, but to unravel the mystery of a missing girl, she’ll need some help from friends — and her brother.

Also starring Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, David Thewlis, Susan Wokoma and Sharon Duncan-Brewster.

Playlist: Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Listen on Apple Music:
On this day in 1991, Nirvana released its second album, “Nevermind.”
A critical and commercial success, by January 1992, it had reached no. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and this lead single has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The album garnered three Grammy Awards nominations and has sold more than 30 million copies, considered one of the best albums of all-time.
Frontman Kurt Cobain was dubbed “voice of his generation,” and the album brought grunge and alternative rock to the mainstream.