The third annual St. Louis Film Festival opens tomorrow and
continues through Sunday, May 1.
This year's festival will present 36 movies, as compared to 29
last year and two dozen the year before. Movies will be shown at
three theaters instead of one. But the major advance this year is
that at least 10 filmmakers will visit St. Louis and talk about
Only one or two film makers appeared at the first two
festivals, and there were no organized discussions. No awards were
This year, director Joseph H. Lewis, who reached his 87th
birthday on April 7, will receive the first annual Distinguished
Hollywood Film Artist Award from the festival. Lewis will appear at
the screening next Thursday of his 1950 B-movie classic "Gun Crazy."
Lewis is familiar to St. Louis film buffs from his popular
appearances at the Webster University Film Series. He is highly
respected for the astonishingly innovative visual and narrative
techniques he brought to very low-budget crime movies, designed to
be "second features" to fill out the bottom half of double bills.
Also, the directors of four of the movies on the schedule -
"Suture," "blessing," "Where the Rivers Flow North" and "The Fire
This Time" - will appear on Sunday at a panel discussion on
American independent film production. It's co-sponsored by the St.
Louis Film Office. (See the festival schedule for details on this
and other appearances by film makers.)
Barbara Jones, director of the festival, said, "I think it is a
real step forward, getting so many directors in. This year, we have
three `sidebars' focusing on particular areas of filmmaking: Young
Americans, African-Americans and the New German Cinema."
Seven films are included in the Young Americans sidebar and two
in the African-American sidebar. The New German Cinema sidebar,
cosponsored by the Goethe Institute of St. Louis, will present four
About half the festival movies had their premieres in January
at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. "I thought young American
directors made a particularly strong showing this year at
Sundance," Jones said. "And the movies we have picked up range from
the avant garde, like `Suture,' to fairly traditional works like
`Where the Rivers Flow North.' "
For the first time, the two rival distributors that dominate
commercial movie-going in St. Louis - AMC and Wehrenberg - will
share the festival. The festival will run for six days at AMC's
Esquire Theatres, 6706 Clayton Rd., Richmond Heights. Then it will
spend four days at Wehrenberg's Shady Oak, 7630 Forsyth Blvd.,
The two movies in the African-American sidebar and "Freaked,"
part of the Young Americans sidebar, will be shown at the
independent Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar Blvd., University City.
The purposes of the festival, as before, are to bring in films
that wouldn't ordinarily come to St. Louis and to highlight films
that might get lost in the shuffle of major releases. Over the last
two years, only about a third of the films from the festival
returned to St. Louis for regular runs.
Some of this year's festival entries can be counted on to
return. That includes the opening-night feature "Widow's Peak,"
starring Joan Plowright, Mia Farrow and Natasha Richardson;
foreign-language Oscar winner "Belle Epoque" and "Backbeat," about
the early Beatles. Most festival films probably won't be back.
"We want to make the festival an event for the city, a special
time," said Jones.
Tickets are $5.50. Advance tickets can be bought between noon
and 6 p.m. today at the Esquire and the Shady Oak. For further
information, call 726-6779.
ESQUIRE, APRIL 22-27
(except as noted)
FRIDAY, APRIL 22
7 p.m. - "Widow's Peak": In a small Irish town where widows
rule, new arrival Natasha Richardson sparks trouble by taking an
interest in the local dentist. …