St. Louis International Film Festival celebrates 30th year of screening films


Photo provided by Cinema St. Louis

Ben Kaiser, News Editor

The St. Louis International Film Festival marks its 30th anniversary in St. Louis, while also honoring Mary Strauss, who was a memorable figure for art and cinema in St. Louis.

“There are films here from Sundance, from Cannes, Berlin, Tribeca,” Cliff Froehlich, executive director of Cinema St. Louis, said in an article from the Post-Dispatch. “It’s kind of stunning, to be honest. It’s almost head-shaking to me that we were able to get this many high-quality films.”

The St. Louis International Film Festival, or SLIFF, started on Nov. 4 and will last until Nov 21. Due to the pandemic, this year’s screenings will be a mixture of in-person events and virtual screenings.

Cinema St. Louis partnered with for its virtual screenings after last year’s festival. Proof of full COVID vaccinations will be required for in-person screenings, and masks are mandatory at all times. There will also be no concessions this year.

This year also marks another significant occasion for Cinema St. Louis: a tribute for Mary Strauss. Strauss was a well-known philanthropist for the St. Louis area. One of her biggest contributions was restoring the Fox Theatre in the early 1980s, which was in dire shape at the time.

Froehlich said that Strauss was a one-person driving force in restoring the theatre.

Strauss was also a major figure in the history of Cinema St. Louis, and she helped establish Grand Center, the city’s Arts and Entertainment District. SLIFF will be honoring Strauss’ memory with a Lifetime Achievement Award and will screen her favorite movie, “Sunset Boulevard,” for free on Nov. 21.

The full festival lineup covers films from across the United States and around the world. Froehlich says it’s hard to predict, but many from their lineup are worthy for the Oscars. Some high-interest films include “Belfast,” “King Richard,” “The Human,” “C’mon C’mon,” and more.

“The shutdowns associated with COVID-19 last year created a backlog of festival-quality films,” Froehlich said, “which are all coming out now. SLIFF, which presented a virtual festival in 2020, has snagged a good number of those films.”

Another movie to spark many St. Louisans’ interests is “American Underdog,” based on Kurt Warner’s climb to football fame before joining the St. Louis Rams. A portion of the story will cover Warner’s time in St. Louis. However, locations were not shot in Missouri because of tax credits, according to Froehlich. Kurt and Brenda Warner will attend the film screening, with a Q&A following afterwards.

The festival is currently screening films in-person at the Tivoli Theatre, which it has been doing for over 20 years. Other screenings will play at Washington University’s Brown Hall Auditorium and Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium. The St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library Auditorium will also screen for six Golden Anniversaries of films from 1971.

The movie prices will vary, with most in-person or virtual screening tickets charging $15 and $11 for Cinema St. Louis members and students. Passes for multiple films will be available, as well.

According to Froehlich, last year’s festival was possible with virtual screening due to COVID concerns. While their box office declined with a smaller audience, the streaming site, Eventive, had a much lesser risk for film piracy.

For more information on the film festival, Mary Strauss, and the films presented, visit Cinema St. Louis’ site.