Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

True Stories Are a Focus of Showcase; Students and Elders Add Their Voices [Corrected 07/16/13]

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

True Stories Are a Focus of Showcase; Students and Elders Add Their Voices [Corrected 07/16/13]

Article excerpt

Here's a tip for aspiring filmmakers. Before you tackle that three-hour special-effects spectacular, consider making a short documentary. Fascinating true stories are abundant in your hometown, they don't involve temperamental actors, they can attract arts- foundation grants and they are perfect for broadcast on local- access cable. Plus, successful documentaries have led to Hollywood careers for directors such as Bennett Miller ("The Cruise," "Moneyball"), Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong," "Identity Thief") and native St. Louisans Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth," "Gracie") and the late George Hickenlooper ("Hearts of Darkness," "Casino Jack").

Documentarians share the spotlight with narrative directors at the annual St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, Sunday through June 18 at the Tivoli.

Several of the nonfiction films are bite-size, such as the ones presented in a program of documentary shorts on Monday at 5 p.m. Topics include one of America's last typewriter-repair shops, barroom observations from local raconteur Thomas Crone and the fate of the world's final roll of Kodachrome film (which passed through Webster University on its way to the lab).

Inexpensive video cameras have aided a new generation of student filmmakers, including the local high schoolers represented in the feature-length anthology "Pentimento: The St. Louis Storymapping Project" (12:30 p.m. Sunday). The film is produced by the Midwest Center for Media Literacy, which hires apprentice directors to document stories in their neighborhoods, "Pentimento" comprises 11 short films. The subjects range from St. Louis' stray-dog rescue service and a homeless encampment near the riverfront to rumors of ghosts in the Sheldon Concert Hall and the nutrition-vs.-flavor debate in the lunchroom at Roosevelt High School. (The individual short films are pinned to a virtual map at the project website, pentimento.tv/thestories.html.)

The showcase has two standalone, feature-length documentaries. "Something in the Water" (2:30 p.m. Sunday), which was recently highlighted in the Post-Dispatch, is Kathy Bratkowski's "rockumentary" about St. Louis' homegrown music scene in the '60s and early '70s.

Generations on either side of the civil rights era are the focus of the documentary "Jim Crow to Barack Obama" (7 p. …

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