14 October 2008

The Saint Louis International Film Festival 2008

For all of those living in the ‘Lou, the 17th Annual Saint Louis International Film Festival line-up has been announced for the dates of Nov. 13-23. Although you can check out the schedule in pdf form here, I thought I might point out some of the more exciting inclusions this year. SLIFF will be awarding writer/director Paul Schrader a Lifetime Achievement Award and will screen his latest film Adam Resurrected, starring Jeff Goldbum, Willem Dafoe, Moritz Bleibtreu and Derek Jacobi, as well as a restored print of Mishima: A Life in Four Parts. Following the screening of Adam Resurrected, LA Weekly film editor Scott Foundas will have a Q&A with the director.

A “Micro-Budget Filmmaking Seminar” will be conducted on the 15th at 11 am at the Tivoli. Mary Bronstein, who co-starred in Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland and whose directorial debut Yeast will be screened during the fest, is going to be one of the participants, as well as Missouri native Blake Eckard (Sinner Come Home) and St. Louisan Aaron Coffmann (Texas Snow). In addition to Bronstein’s Yeast, another mumblecore flick, Nights and Weekends, written, directed and starring Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig will also be screening at this year’s fest.

Humboldt County co-directors Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs, both hailing from Saint Louis, are also making an appearance this year with a Q&A and after-party which opens the festival. The film, which premiered at this year’s SXSW fest and was just recently distributed theatrically by Magnolia, stars Fairuza Balk, Peter Bogdanovich, Frances Conroy, Brad Dourif and Chris Messina.

Steven Soderbergh’s absent-on-DVD King of the Hill, which was set and shot in Saint Louis, will be featured in a panel discussion about the translation from the book to film. There’s also going to be a film noir seminar, following a screening of Joseph Losey’s The Prowler (his last film shot in the US and also unavailable on DVD in the US). The panel will include noir expert Eddie Muller and actress Marsha Hunt, who was blacklisted from Hollywood. And rounding up the special events is a Q&A with Michael Apted (the Up! series), recipient of this year’s Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary, conducted by Cinema Saint Louis executive director Cliff Froehlich. His latest film, The Power of the Game, will also screen this year.

And onto the big gals of this year’s fest. Darren Aronofsky’s Venice and Toronto winner The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and Judah Friedlander, will close the fest before the film makes its theatrical run in the middle of December. Palme d’Or winner The Class (Entre les murs), from writer/director Laurent Cantet, is also screening on the 22nd.

Philippe Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime), starring Kristin Scott-Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein as sisters, will also screen on closing night before it hits local theatres soon. Bent Hamer’s O’ Horten is also showing, after receiving a number of praises when it played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Danny Boyle’s crowd-pleaser of a film, Slumdog Millionaire, will play on the 15th.

Kelly Reichardt’s much anticipated follow-up to Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, which stars Michelle Williams, is also set for the 17th. I should mention that Wendy and Lucy is probably my most anticipated film to premiere at SLIFF this year. The new film from Rian Johnson (Brick), The Brothers Bloom, is playing on the 22nd. The film, which will make its limited theatrical run beginning 19 December from Summit Entertainment, stars Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Robbie Coltrane and Rinko Kikuchi, whom you should remember as the jumper-lifting deaf girl from Babel.

As for the hot docs, Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City will screen on the 15th. I wish I could remember who exactly said it, but someone, via GreenCine Daily, called the film the real masterpiece of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, which also premiered at Cannes and will be Israel’s official submission for next year’s foreign language Oscar, will also be spotlighted on the closing day of the festival.

As for a few smaller films to pay attention to, I’ve read some wonderful things about Aditya Assarat’s Wonderful Town, from Thailand, which will play on the 18th. Marco Bellocchio’s The Wedding Director (Il regista di matrimoni), which stars Sergio Castellitto of Va savoir, The Last Kiss and Mostly Martha, screens on the 20th and 22nd. Beloved director Giuseppe Tornatore (whom, as you should know, I quite despise) has his most recent film, The Unknown Woman (La sconsciuta), set for the 14th and 15th. Reha Erdem’s Times and Winds, which is one of two films I’ve seen prior to the fest, is playing on the 15th. Nic Balthazar’s Ben X, the other film I’ve already seen, is playing on the 21st and 22nd. It should be mentioned that I much preferred Times and Winds to Ben X.

Director John Boorman’s (The General, Deliverance) The Tiger’s Tail, which stars Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Ciarán Hinds and Sinéad Cusack, will screen on both the 19th and 20th. Nacho Vigalondo’s sci-fi/horror film Timecrimes (Los cronocrímenes) will screen on the 19th, before Magnolia’s Magnet Releasing puts it in theatres sometime in December. According to the schedule, David Cronenberg is set to return to his horror roots and remake the film. The schedule also reports that Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), which screens on the 15th and is also going to be released by Magnet, is also getting a Hollywood remake (although much less exciting as it's to be directed by the asshole who made Cloverfield).

Eric Guirado’s The Grocer’s Son (Le fils de l’épicier) is going to play on the 16th and 17th. The film, which stars Nicolas Cazalé and Clotilde Hesme (Love Songs), was reported through IndieWire as being Film Movement’s highest grossing film in their existence. Also from France is Nicolas Klotz’s The Heartbeat Detector (La question humaine), which screens on the 18th and 19th, starring Mathieu Amalric. For those who can’t make it, New Yorker released the DVD back in July. Yang Li’s Blind Mountain, which hits DVD from Kino in January, will play on the 14th. And finally, Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award for Israel this year, will show on the 21st and 23rd (although Kino released the DVD at the end of September).

I should be seeing a number of these films before the festival goes underway, so if any of the films happen to strike me, I’ll be sure to point you in their direction.

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