2012 SLIFF Juried and Audience Choice Awards


The 21st Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival concluded on Sunday, Nov. 18, with a closing-night party at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, announcing a slate of audience-choice and juried-competition winners.
During the fest’s 11 days (Nov. 8-18), SLIFF also honored filmmakers Ross McElwee (Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary), Joe Dante (Lifetime Achievement Award), Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (Women in Film Award), and Beau Willimon (Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award).


Best Narrative Feature: “The Sapphires,” directed by Wayne Blair
Best International Narrative Feature: “Quartet,” directed by Dustin Hoffman
Leon Award for Best Documentary Feature: “The Entertainers,” directed by Michael Zimmer 


New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Filmmaker Award (The Bobbie)

Winner ($500 cash prize): “Faith, Love and Whiskey,” directed by Kristina Nikolova
Special Jury Citation: “Sun Don’t Shine,” directed by Amy Seimetz

St. Louis Film Critics’ Joe Pollack Awards 

Best Narrative Feature: “Barbara,” directed by Christian Petzold
Special Jury Citation for Acting in Narrative Feature: Rachel Mwanza, lead actress of “War Witch”
Best Documentary Feature: “Uprising,” directed by Fredrik Stanton
Special Jury Citation for Documentary Feature: “We Are Wisconsin,” directed by Amie Williams

Alliance of Womens Film Journalists’ EDA Awards

Best Narrative Feature: “Sister,” directed by Ursula Meier
Special Jury Citation for Narrative Feature: “Found Memories,” directed by Julia Marat
Best Documentary Feature: “Seeking Asian Female,” directed by Debbie Lum
Special Jury Citation for Documentary Feature: “The World Before Her,” directed by Nisha Pahuja

Interfaith Awards

Best Narrative Feature: “War Witch,” directed by Kim Nguyen
Best Documentary Feature: “The Second Execution of Romell Broom,” directed by Michael Verhoeven
Special Jury Citation for Documentary Feature: “Stories from an Undeclared War,” directed by Dennis Rice

Midrash Award 

Winner ($500 cash prize): “Seeking Asian Female,” directed by Debbie Lum

Short Film Awards

Best of Fest Short: “Pitch Black Heist,” directed by John Maclean
Best Local Short: “Paper Hallways,” directed by Cody Stokes
Best Short Short: “Colosse,” directed by Yves Geleyn
Best International Short: “Friend Request Pending,” directed by Chris Foggin
Best Animated Short: “Luminaris,” directed by Juan Pablo Zaramella
Best Live Action Short: “The Voorman Problem,” directed by Mark Gill
Best Documentary Short:  “Female,” directed by Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre
Special Jury Citation for Documentary Short: “Boomtown,” directed by Torben Bernhard & Travis Low

Lifetime Achievement Award

Joe Dante: Joe Dante, whose work delightfully blends humor and horror, has been at work making movies since 1968, when he produced “The Movie Orgy,” an epic-length compilation that employed found footage to brilliantly satiric effect. SLIFF screens a shortened version of the work. He subsequently honed his skills with Roger Corman, eventually co-directing “Hollywood Boulevard” (1976) and helming “Piranha” (1978) for the B-movie king. The contemporary werewolf film “The Howling” (1981) firmly established Dante as a horror director, and its comic elements hinted at the direction of his next films – the “It’s a Good Life” segment of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” (1983) and the classic “Gremlins” (1984), which both displayed the anarchic sensibility of the classic Warner Bros. cartoon shorts. (Further attesting to his fondness for the work of Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, and Bob Clampett, Dante subsequently directed the live action/animation hybrid “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” in 2003.) Other key films include “Explorers” (1985), “Innerspace” (1987), “The ‘Burbs” (1989), “Gremlins 2” (1990), “Matinee” (1993), and “Small Soldiers” (1998). Dante also has done fine work in television, directing episodes of “Amazing Stories,” “The Twilight Zone,” and the recently relaunched “Hawaii Five-0”; supervising the series “Eerie, Indiana”; and contributing two memorable episodes to the Showtime “Masters of Horror” anthology show. His most recent film, which SLIFF screens, is “The Hole,” a 3D family horror film. Directors who have previously been honored with a SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award include Paul Schrader, John Sayles, and Rob Nilsson.

Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary

Ross McElwee: Ross McElwee, America’s preeminent personal documentarian, grew up in North Carolina and graduated from Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After co-directing “Space Coast” in 1979, McElwee found his métier with a pair of shorts: “Charleen” (1980), about his flamboyant high-school teacher, and “Backyard” (1984), about his relationship with his surgeon father and medical-school-bound brother. His next film, a landmark in the first-person documentary genre, was “Sherman’s March” (1986), in which McElwee retraced Gen. Sherman’s destructive Civil War route, interweaving portraits of seven Southern women he meets along the way. Subsequent films continued to mine McElwee’s life and reflect on larger sociological, political, and philosophical issues, always with wit and self-deprecating humor. “Time Indefinite” (1993) documented his belated shift into adulthood and marriage, and “Bright Leaves” explored his family’s connections to the tobacco industry. Other works include “Something to Do With the Wall” (1991), “Six O’Clock News” (1997), and “In Paraguay” (2008). The new “Photographic Memory,” which SLIFF screens, finds the filmmaker in fine ruminative form, reflecting on his own youth and his strained relationship with his son. Among McElwee’s countless honors is a Career Award from the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. McElwee teaches at Harvard University and has been awarded fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Filmmakers who have previously been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary include Albert Maysles, Ken Burns, Les Blank, Michael Apted, and Steve James.

Women in Film Award

Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern: Director/writer/producers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg jointly head Break Thru Films. Their diverse credits include the Emmy-nominated features “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” (2007) and “The Devil Came On Horseback” (2008); “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival; and “Burma Soldier,” which was a centerpiece screening at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, where Ricki and Annie received the 2011 Career Award. The pair’s most recent work is “Knuckleball!,” which screens at SLIFF. Ricki’s additional credits include directing and producing “In My Corner” and the Emmy-nominated “Neglect Not the Children” Ricki is also the author of the children’s book series “Beryl Bean: Mighty Adventurer of the Planet.” Annie was a director and supervising producer on the HBO series “Brave New Voices,” and she developed and produced the feature film “Tully,” nominated for four IFP Spirit Awards. Additional directing and producing credits include a four-part special on the Mayo Clinic for Discovery (2004) and the 1996 Oscar®- and Emmy-winning “One Survivor Remembers,” a co-production of HBO and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ricki and Annie have been recognized with the Best Female Filmmakers Award at the San Diego Film Festival, the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, and the Lena Sharpe/Women in Cinema Persistence of Vision Award at the Seattle International Film Festival. Previous Women in Film Award winners include Yvonne Welbon, Barbara Hammer, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Marsha Hunt, Ry Russo-Young, and Pamela Yates.

Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award

Beau Willimon: Former St. Louisan Beau Willimon is a screenwriter, playwright and producer. His play “Farragut North,” became the basis for the motion picture screenplay “Ides of March,” which he co-wrote with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. “Ides of March” earned Willimon Academy Award®, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Currently Willimon is creator, executive producer and show-runner of Netflix’s original series “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, directed by David Fincher.  Willimon is a co-founder of Westward Productions – a film and television production company – along with co-founder Jordan Tappis.  Among Westward Productions’ current projects is the forthcoming “Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen” – a film adaption of Ibsen’s play “Master Builder” developed by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, directed by Jonathan Demme.   Other projects in development include a documentary about adventure traveler Karl Bushby’s quest to circumnavigate the globe on foot over the course of two decades, and a documentary about Westerly Windina, a transgender Australian woman formerly known as legendary pro-surfer Peter Drouyn.  Willimon receives the Charge Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award at a free screening of “The Ides of March.” Previous winners of the award – which honors St. Louisans making significant contributions to the art of film – include Bob Gale, George Hickenlooper, Ken Kwapis, Cedric the Entertainer, James Gunn, Jenna Fischer, the Charles Guggenheim family, Jeremy Lasky, and Michael Beugg.


Audience voting determines the winner of three awards from among the films in competition:

  • Best Film Award
  • Best International Film Award
  • Leon Award for Best Documentary (named in memory of the late civic leader Leon Strauss)


Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ EDA Awards 

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) was founded in 2006 by Jennifer Merin, Maitland McDonagh, Joanna Langfield, and Jenny Halper. Its members are highly qualified professional female movie critics, reporters, and feature writers working in print, broadcast, and online media.

AWFJ’s purpose is to support work by and about women – both in front of and behind the cameras – through intra-group promotional activities, outreach programs, and presentation of the annual EDA Awards in recognition of outstanding accomplishments by and about women in the movies. AWFJ has now expanded the EDA Awards program to include presentation of woman-oriented awards at outstanding film festivals.

The EDAs are named in honor of AWFJ founder Jennifer Merin’s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, a stage, film, and television actress whose career spanned more than 60 years.

At SLIFF, EDA Awards will be presented in two feature categories, narrative and documentary. SLIFF chose five films in each category, and AWFJ juries evaluated the films in competition and choose a winner. The selected films:

Narrative: Camilla Dickinson (by Cornelia Moore), Found Memories (by Júlia Murat), The Olivia Experiment by (Sonja Schenk), Sister by (Ursula Meier), Sun Don’t Shine (by Amy Seimetz)

Documentary: Her Master’s Voice (by Nina Conti), The Perfect Victim (by Elizabeth Rohrbaugh), Seeking Asian Female (by Debbie Lum), We Women Warriors (by Nicole Karsin), The World Before Her (by Nisha Pahuja)

The narrative jury is Jennifer Merin (chair), Nikki Baughan, Leba Hertz, Ann Lewinson, and Maitland McDonagh. The documentary jury is Michelle McCue (chair), Monika Bartyzel, Jette Kernion, Karen Krizanovich, and Jeanne Wolf.

Interfaith Documentary and Feature Awards

A jury gives 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.

Documentaries: Between Two Rivers, Defiant Requiem, Invisible Men, The Second Execution of Romell Broom, Stories from an Undeclared War

Narratives: Apartment in Athens, Guilty, Lucky, Shun Li and the Poet, War Witch

The 2012 Interfaith Sidebar selection committee was David Gast, (chair), retired board chairman of the Carl F. Gast Co.; Delcia Corlew, member of the Cinema St. Louis board; Janet Herrmann, former Cinema St. Louis board member; Paul Marsh, retired architect; Pier Marton, former lecturer in Washington University’s Film and Media Studies program; Pat Scallet, filmmaker and editor; Tom Stockdale, retired minister; Adrienne Wartts, film-appreciation instructor; Betty White, retired professor of English; and Kivanc Dundar, an architecture student at Washington University.

The documentary jury is Kanak Gautam, associate professor of healthcare management at St. Louis University; Janet Herrmann; and Pat Scallet.

The narrative jury is Sandra Olmsted, adjunct faculty member in English at St. Louis University, Fontbonne University, and Southwestern Illinois College; Joya Uraizee, associate professor of English at St. Louis University; and Betty White.

Midrash St. Louis Film Award

Midrash St. Louis (www.midrashstl.com) engages various aspects of our culture – hot topics, deep subjects, music, arts, film – and seeks to give and receive commentary on the subjects and issues that matter to people in St. Louis and that form and shape our views and lives. The Midrash St. Louis Film Award celebrates St. Louis-related films of honesty and artistry that portray the need or the hope for reconciliation or redemption. Eligible work includes feature and short films largely shot in St. Louis or directed by persons with strong local ties. The award comes with a cash prize of $500.

The award jury is Michael Leary, research ethicist at Washington University, adjunct professor at Fontbonne University, and co-editor of Filmwell.org; Michele Oesch, film aficionado and nonprofit fundraiser; Aditya Siram, SLIFF volunteer and pop-culture gadfly; and Bob Oesch, attorney at law and leader of Midrash St. Louis.

NFF Emerging Director Award: The Bobbie

The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF) annually presents the Emerging Director Award. Five works by first-time feature filmmakers compete for the prize, which includes a $500 cash award. Since its inception, NFF has been co-curated by Bobbie Lautenschlager. After completing work on this year’s NFF, Bobbie died this summer, and SLIFF is honoring her memory by nicknaming the NFF Emerging Director Award the Bobbie.

This year’s NFF jury is Beau Willimon (chair), writer and executive producer of the upcoming Netflix series “House of Cards” and co-screenwriter of “The Ides of March”;  Dan Mirvish, co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival and director of “Between Us”; Harper Barnes, author of “Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement” and freelance film critic for the St. Louis Beacon; Andrew Wyatt, film critic for St. Louis Magazine’s Look/Listen arts-and-entertainment blog; and Calvin Wilson, film, jazz, and dance critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Shorts Awards

Two juries choose the winners of seven awards from among the shorts in competition:

  • Best of Fest
  • Best Animated Short
  • Best Documentary Short
  • Best International Short
  • Best Live Action Short
  • Best Local Short
  • Best Short Short (less than 5 minutes)

The SLIFF shorts competition is officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, making the winners in the Best of Fest, Best Animated, and Best Live Action categories eligible to submit for Oscar® consideration.

The narrative-shorts jury is Michael Haffner, filmmaker and managing editor of the Destroy the Brain film Web site; James Harrison, program coordinator for the Webster University Film Series; Bill Streeter, director of “Brick by Chance and Fortune” and creator of the Web video series Lo-Fi Saint Louis; Matt Tierney, content operations manager for Nook Video at Barnes & Noble and former CSL Fellow; and Kat Touschner, video artist and producer of the International Documentary Challenge and National Film Challenge.

The documentary-shorts jury is Diane Carson, professor emeritus of film at St. Louis Community College at Meramec and adjunct professor of film studies at Webster University; Kathy Corley, documentarian and professor and program facilitator of film studies at Webster University; and Ben Scholle, documentarian and assistant professor of communication at Lindenwood University.

St. Louis Film Critics’ Joe Pollack Awards

In conjunction with the St. Louis Film Critics organization, SLIFF inaugurates juried competitions for documentary and narrative features in 2012. The awards are named in honor of the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Joe Pollack, a founder of the St. Louis Film Critics organization. The winners will be picked by two juries – each composed of four St. Louis film critics and headed by critics working nationally. This year, the jury heads are Charles Taylor (documentary), former Salon film critic and freelance contributor to the New York Times and other publications; and Stephanie Zacharek (narrative), former Salon and Movieline film critic and freelancer for the New York Times, Slate, and other venues.

The jury’s selections will be announced on the Cinema St. Louis Web site on Wednesday, Nov. 14, and the winning films each receive an additional screening – documentary at Webster U. and narrative at Plaza Frontenac – on SLIFF’s closing night. SLIFF chose eight films to compete in each category:

Narratives: Barbara, Caesar Must Die, Come As You Are, Headshot, Las Acacias, Sister, A Trip, War Witch

Documentaries: Danland: A Pornumentary, Getting Up: The Tempt One Story, The Institute, The Invisible Men, The Second Execution of Romell Broom, Unmade in China, Uprising, We Are Wisconsin!

The narrative jury is Stephanie Zacharek (head); Mark Glass, KDHX-FM; Rob Levy, KDHX-FM and NeedCoffee.com; Sandy Olmsted, CinematicSkinny.com; and Pete Timmermann, PLAYBACK:stl.

The documentary jury is Charles Taylor (head); Dawn Dixon, KTRS-AM’s “Frank O. Pinion Show”; Cate Marquis, St. Louis Jewish Light and MarqueeByMarquis.com; Kent Tentschert, Webster-Kirkwood Times and South County Times; and Jim Tudor, ZekeFilm.