In-Person Screenings (also available online where noted)

Monday, November 13


April in France • Online and In-Person
David Boaretto, France, 2023, 77 min., in English and French, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Monday, November 13, St. Louis Public Library
Appropriate for grades 4-8
Indebted to Hayao Miyazaki's work, this documentary is about April, a 5-year-old English girl, who is unhappy to move to France. From Paris, she moves to the small medieval village in the southwest of France where her great-grandfather lived. There, she is convinced that he is only sleeping in the cemetery and he will come back from the dead to be with her. While waiting for him she meets his former friends. With them she will open to the world and discover her inner self before in turn transforming their lives forever.


Story & Pictures By • Online and In-Person
Joanna Rudnick, U.S., 2023, 84 min., in English and Spanish, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Monday, November 13, Hi-Pointe Theatre
Appropriate for grades 4-8
This the first feature documentary to take audiences behind the scenes to meet the boundary pushers who create children’s picture books. The film follows Christian Robinson, Yuyi Morales, and Mac Barnett – the stars of the new "golden age" of kids lit – as they create experimental work that reflects the mysteries of childhood, champions the marginalized, and provides children with windows and mirrors, even when the creators' own lives are not fairy tales. Through rare archival footage, untapped insights, and stop-motion paper animation, we also come to understand why classics such as “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and “The Snowy Day” changed the art form and stand the test of time.

Tuesday, November 14


Into the Spotlight • Online and In-Person
Thaddeus D. Matula, U.S., 2023, 99 min., in English, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Tuesday, November 14, St. Louis Public Library
Appropriate for grades 6-12
A heartfelt story of how a script, a stage, and a theater program composed of adults with disabilities celebrate creativity, explore life’s complexities, and empower a community. In their own words and their own way, this documentary feature follows a Dallas-based theatre troupe of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are determined to write, rehearse, and perform their 11th annual original musical during the 2021-22 season. Many similar films tend to focus on experts explaining how people with disabilities feel; however, this film is crafted entirely from the point of view of the individuals, giving them a voice. Nothing is editorialized and neither are there any people speaking for or on behalf of them. Only people with disabilities are interviewed, and the only people who answer the questions are the people with disabilities themselves.


Pianoforte • In-Person Only
Jakub Piątek, Poland, 2023, 91 min., in Polish, English, Chinese, Italian, Russian; Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Tuesday, November 14, Hi-Pointe Theatre
Appropriate for grades 6-12
21 days, 80 participants, 10 finalists. Warsaw’s International Chopin Piano competition, held every five years, has launched the careers of many piano virtuosos. Pianoforte follows seven hopefuls as they progress – or maybe not – through four grueling competition stages. The stakes are high and the pressure is intense – at times too intense for some. From rehearsals to performance, backstage and at home, the camera captures what it takes to make it in this highly competitive world. It’s a case of “Spellbound” meets “Tár” in filmmaker Jakub Piątek’s enthralling documentary.

Wednesday, November 15


Bloodlines of the Slave Trade • Online and In-Person
Markie Hancock, U.S., 2023, 83 min., in English, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Wednesday, November 15, St. Louis Public Library
Appropriate for grades 7-12
This documentary feature examines the lives of two people whose only connection is a genetic link to notorious slave traders of the 1830s. Rodney (who is Black) and Susanna (who is white) have very different lived experiences as their slave-trading ancestors continue to impact their lives.


The First Class • In-Person Only
Lee Hirsch, U.S., 2023, 97 min., in English, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Wednesday, November 15, Hi-Pointe Theatre
Appropriate for grades 9-12
An intimate verité film follows students and educators at a groundbreaking new high school in Memphis. Their inspiring journey shows what learning can look like – and accomplish – when a city comes together to rethink what high school can be.

Thursday, November 16


Target: St. Louis, Vol. 1 • Online and In-Person
Damien D. Smith, U.S., 2021, 60 min., in English, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Thursday, November 16, St. Louis Public Library
Appropriate for grades 9-12
“Target: St. Louis” tells the story of the U.S. government’s secret Cold War-era dispersal of aerosolized radioactive material in Pruitt-Igoe and other North City locations with majority Black populations to “study” their effects (though no proper follow-up ever seems to have occurred). The documentary also links the exploitation of poor, Black St. Louisans for medical testing to other historical examples (e.g., the Tuskegee syphilis study), and it makes connections to the city’s unfortunate larger legacy of radiation contamination. Former residents of Pruitt-Igoe complex, many still suffering from the effects of the experiment, offer moving testimony.


Curtain Up! • In-Person Only
Hui Tong & Kelly Ng, U.S., 2021, 69 min., in English and Mandarin, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Thursday, November 16, Hi-Pointe Theatre
Appropriate for grades 4-8
All energy and opinion, 5th grader William seems excited to burst beyond his constraints, while his classmate Charlotte, a measured thinker, admits that sometimes it's easier to be scared than happy. But both students adore their theater class and are set to have a transformative final year of elementary school. This award-winning documentary follows a 5th grade class at PS 124 in New York City's Chinatown as they prepare for a big musical production of "Frozen Kids" and begin to discover their identities. Behind the scenes, nervous excitement and flubbed-lines goofiness brushes up against stereotypes, family expectations, and post-graduation uncertainties. Through rehearsing for this American favorite, the young actors grapple with their Asian roots. Will they have to let something go?

Friday, November 17


The Quilt: A Living History of African American Music • Online and In-Person
Julya Jara, U.S., 2022, 78 min., in English, Documentary Feature
10 a.m. Friday, November 17, St. Louis Public Library
Appropriate for grades 6-12
In the setting of the historic Carver Center in San Antonio, Texas, aunt and niece explore the history of African American music. Aunt Cynthia, a music history buff, teaches her niece Lauren about music genres born and formed by African American history and culture. They cover music during the times of slavery, Negro Spirituals, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Harlem Renaissance, Gospel, Civil Rights movement, Soul and R&B, and Hip Hop. Aunt Cynthia inspires Lauren’s curiosity about history by making it relevant to music. She uses the layers of a quilt to explain how African American music of the past connects to contemporary music. Lauren feels empowered by making the music cultural connection throughout generations.


The Space Race • In-Person Only
Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortes, U.S., 2023, 90 min., in English, Documentary Feature
Appropriate for grades 7-12
This documentary uncovers the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers and scientists to become astronauts. Simultaneously championed and exploited as political pawns, some made it to space, while others were erased from history. For the first time, this film puts their lived experiences back into the space exploration narrative and uncovers what it means for the next generation of Black astronauts.

Films Available Online Only


Bare Metal
Brandon Robert Gries, Ryan Freng, John Shoemaker, U.S., 2023, 10 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Microsoft, Google, META, and AWS are some of the biggest single-power consumers in the world. Along with other digital infrastructure companies’ consumption, they make up 2.4% of the world's energy use. This film details the digital infrastructure industry's work to reduce their carbon footprint in an effort to lower carbon emissions and help save the world.


Braves Wear Braids
Jamie Starlight, Bryce Starlight, Canada, 2022, 29 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 1-12
This is an empowering short documentary focused on encouraging Indigenous youth to not cut their hair. Personal stories explore the challenges faced by many Indigenous families to continue the long-standing tradition of wearing long hair in order to keep the connection that ties them not only to their culture and ancestors, but also to their Creator. Through education, understanding, and allyship, this important piece of culture can continue to be passed down to future generations.


The Budapest Diaries
Shay Fogelman, Israel, 2023, 62 min., in English, Hebrew, and Hungarian; Documentary Feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Personal diaries written by Jews and their Christian neighbors document the events of the final year of World War II and the Holocaust of the Jews in Budapest, Hungary. The diaries depict the daily decline from diverse perspectives, the persecution of the Jews, the battles that almost destroyed the city, and the disillusionment at the end of the war.


Farhoud Meybodi, Japan, 2022, 39 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 7-12
Amidst a catastrophic plastic waste crisis in her hometown of Nairobi, Nzambi Matee risks everything to pioneer revolutionary technology that transforms plastic waste into sustainable paving bricks.


Hear Me
Dave Simonds, U.S., 2023, 52 min., in English, Documentary Feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Guns are the leading cause of death for Americans under 22 years of age, and mass shootings account for less than 1% of deaths by firearms. Yet young people caught up in the mass proliferation of gun violence in the US are rarely listened to. This film is crafted from in-depth conversations with seven at-risk young people in affluent Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. Each cast member is working through various aspects of domestic abuse, neglect, and street violence. Within “Hear Me,” they are the experts – of their own lives, and on the root causes of gun violence.

hollow tree

Hollow Tree
Kira Akerman, U.S., 2022, 73 min., in English, Documentary Feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Three teenagers come of age in their sinking homeland of Louisiana. For the first time, they notice the Mississippi River’s engineering, stumps of cypress trees, and billowing smokestacks. Their different perspectives – as Indigenous, white, and Angolan young women – shape their story of the climate crisis.
Paired with A Branch of US
Billy Kanaly, U.S., 2023, 34 min., in English, Documentary Short
The story of trees and humans has long been intertwined. This film tells the story of four amazing trees and the people who care for them.


Little Sahara
Pequeño Sáhara, Spain, 2023, 30 min., in English, Documentary Short - Animated
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Those who do not know the Sahara think there is only sand in the desert. But also in the desert there are children who play and draw and make movies and who would like to not have to think about the war. In the desert there is a European colony, an occupied country called Western Sahara, where there are thousands of Sahrawi refugees living a hard life in exile. This film tells their story – the story of a supportive, resilient people who try to thrive in the Hamada, where everything has a hard time growing.


The Orchestra Chuck Built
Christopher Stoudt, U.S., 2023, 23 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
In 2016, the League of American Orchestras conducted a study that revealed a shocking statistic: only 1.8% of the professional orchestra workforce in the U.S. is Black. From an old church rec room in the inner city of Los Angeles, former lawyer-turned-conductor Chuck Dickerson is on a mission to change that. Through ICYOLA (The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles), the largest majority Black orchestra in the country, Chuck is creating life-changing opportunities for his community that did not previously exist. This film is a loving portrait of a tireless mentor and a testament to the transformative power of music.


Out of Darkness
Bryan Drake Sparkman, U.S., 2022, 50 min., in English, Documentary Feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12

In 1917, white employees attempted to unionize and decide to strike. The company responded by luring Blacks from the south to East St. Louis as strikebreakers. This manipulation pits migrant Blacks against white employees; decimating lives, homes, and a community.


The Road to Juneteenth
Susan Schaefer (writer & producer), U.S., 2023, 27 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Juneteenth is America’s newest federal holiday, which celebrates the day that Union troops “freed” the last Americans in Galveston, Texas. The long and complex history this day represents continues the conversation surrounding slavery and its continued effects on the country. With interviews from experts on the topic and civil rights leaders, this film explores what true liberty looks like.


Rockin’ Baker
Ringo Jones, U.S., 2022, 15 min., in English, Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Daymara Baker walks away from a senior position at a multinational brand to bake bread and change the world. Rockin’ Baker Academy is a workforce development program that provides cadet bakers with intellectual disabilities a comprehensive set of marketable skills that translate easily to the culinary industry and many other jobs. Rockin’ Baker and Rockin’ Baker Academy were created by founder/CEO and chief foodie Daymara Baker for the purpose of empowering lives. Kneading together a fun community of changemakers, immersive entrepreneurial education, on-the-job skills training and some wit to taste, Rockin’ Baker is intent on breaking the cycle of poverty for families. Rockin’ Baker sells European-inspired baked goods, all lovingly created by underserved yet deserving people on the path to self-sufficiency.

sliff kids

SLIFF/Kids Shorts • Online only
Multiple directors, multiple countries, in English or with no dialogue, Animated Narrative Shorts
Total program running time: 54 min.
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 1-5 (equivalent to G rating)
An enlightening and entertaining selection of age-appropriate shorts from the 2020 St. Louis International Film Festival.
Blue (Robert Petrie, U.S., 2022, 7 min.): Jules wonders about the cosmos, but there are some intergalactic villains in the way.
Cat and Moth (India Barnardo, Canada, 2021, 7 min.): A fluffy white cat just wants comfort, but someone else keeps getting in the way.
Laika and Nemo (Jan Gadermann & Sebastian Gadow, Germany, 2022, 15 min.): Laika and Nemo might wear different suits, but the outcasts quickly find common ground.
Over the Moon (Kai Patterson, U.S., 2022, 5 min.): Two pilots and a paratrooper are caught up in the antics of a malfunctioning alien saucer.
Reflection (Sanna de Vries, Netherlands, 2021, 4 min.): Fiep hates what she sees in the mirror, and her perception becomes her reality.
The Social Chameleon (Alex Ross, U.S., 2022, 10 min.): Cosmo the chameleon doesn’t fit in with the other animals, but he’ll soon learn that’s not necessarily a problem.
Space Race (Shane Dioneda, U.S., 2021, 6 min.): Two competing astronauts race to claim the moon for themselves.


Tahlequah the Whale: Dance of Grief
Daniel Kreizberg, Lithuania, 2023, 15 min., Documentary Short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
In the aftermath of her newborn baby's sudden death, orca mother Tahlequah carries her daughter's body across the Salish Sea in the incredible true story that captivated the world.