A treasure trove of hidden gems, big-buzz movies, classics, and local efforts mark this year's 21st annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival, from Nov. 8 to 18. A record 209 programs are featured and more than 400 films: 110 narrative features, 73 documentary features, and 226 shorts, representing 50 countries.
The east side will be represented again, as venues include the Wildey Theatre, 252 N. Main St., in Edwardsville for both weekends Nov. 8-11 and 15-18, as well as the Hi-Pointe Theatre, Plaza Frontenac Cinema, Tivoli Theatre, Washington University's Brown Hall Auditorium and Webster University's Webster Hall Moore Auditorium in St. Louis.
More than 100 filmmakers and related guests, including honorees Joe Dante (Lifetime Achievement Award), Ross McElwee (Maysles Bros. Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary), Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (Women in Film Award), and Beau Willimon (Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award), will interact and be on hand for question-and-answer sessions.
"Silver Linings Playbook," a new comedy by David O. Russell ("The Fighter," "Three Kings") that won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, will open the festival, and will be shown again Nov. 10. Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Jennifer Lawrence, who is generating significant Oscar buzz), won't open in regular release until Nov. 21.
Other prominent festival films include "A Late Quartet," "Hyde Park on the Hudson," "Stand Up Guys," "Jayne Mansfield's Car," "Quartet," "Rust and Bone," "Struck by Lightning," "The Giant Mechanical Man," and "The Sapphires."
The Wildey's opening weekend includes two must-see special events: "Between Two Rivers" Friday, about Cairo, where the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers affect the town; and the legendary George Melies' series of silent shorts on Saturday. Friday's 7 p.m. program includes a live performance of the concept album "Greetings from Cairo, Illinois" by Stace England and the Salt Kings of Carbondale while Saturday's films will be accompanied by the Rats & People Motional Picture Orchestra at 7:30 p.m.
Other films at the Wildey include "Le Havre," "Knuckleball!", "Three Stars," "Bullhead," "Yellow Rock," "Klown," "Breathing," "The Olivia Experiment," "Starbuck," "Beware of Mr. Baker," "11 Flowers," "Tatsumi," and two shorts programs of animation and comedy.
The fest schedule, ticket information, and a complete list of films, with descriptions, are available at the Cinema St. Louis website (www.cinemastlouis.org). For more information, visit www.cinemastlouis.org or call 314-289-4150.