The 18th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), which began on Nov. 12, concluded on Nov. 22. Nearly 21,000 people attended – 20, 926 patrons came to fest-related events, a 10.5 percent increase from 2008 and a festival record. Box office increased by 8.7 percent over 2009.
Awards were announced at the Nov. 22 closing-night party at the festival Host Hotel, the Moonrise:
Audience Choice Awards
Audience voting determined the winner of three awards from among the films in competition:
Best Feature: “Precious,” directed by Lee Daniels
Best International Feature: “Marcello, Marcello,” directed by Denis Rabaglia
Best Documentary: “9500 Liberty,” directed by Eric Byler and Annabel Park
Juries gave Interfaith Awards to both a documentary and a feature, choosing from among 10 competition films (five in each category), which were selected for their artistic merit, contribution to the understanding of the human condition, and recognition of ethical, social and spiritual values.
Best Feature: “Laila’s Birthday,” directed by Rashid Masharawi
Best Documentary: “Rough Aunties,” directed by Kim Longinotto
New Filmmakers Forum Award
The fest’s New Filmmakers Forum annually presents the Emerging Director Award. Five works by first-time feature filmmakers competed for the prize, which was determined by a jury headed by Gerald Peary, longtime Boston Phoenix film critic and director of “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism.” A cash prize of $500 is awarded.
“St. Nick,” directed by David Lowery
Juries choose the winners of seven awards from among the short subjects in competition.
Best of Fest: “Lost Paradise,” directed by Oded Binnun
Best Live Action: “Funky Prairie Boy,” directed by Mike Shultz
Best Animated: “Naiade,” directed by Nadia Micault
Best International: “Love Hate,” directed by Blake & Dylan Ritson
Best Short Short: “Cattle Call,” directed by Mike Maryniuk & Matthew Rankin
Best Local: “Spaces,” directed by Zlatko Cosic
Best Documentary Short: “Cohen on the Bridge: Rescue at Entebbe,” directed by Andrew Wainrib
Midrash St. Louis Film Award
Midrash St. Louis (www.midrashstl.com) presented the inaugural Midrash St. Louis Film Award, which seeks to celebrate St. Louis-related films of honesty and artistry that portray the need or the hope for reconciliation or redemption. Eligible work includes features and shorts directed by St. Louis-area natives or those with strong local ties and films largely shot in St. Louis. The award comes with a cash prize of $1,000.
“Game of the Year,” directed by Chris Grega
St. Louis Film Critics Award
A jury from the St. Louis Film Critics selected the annual Under-the-Radar Award winner, honoring an acclaimed international film that deserves more audience attention. SLIFF chose the five films for jury evaluation on the basis of critical recognition and major festival awards. The St. Louis Film Critics also gave a Best of Fest Award.
Under the Radar Award: “Snow,” directed by Aida Begic
Best of Fest: “North Face,” directed by Philipp StÃ¶lzl
For more information, the public should visit www.cinemastlouis.org or call 314-289-4150.