The 29th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), an annual presentation of the nonprofit Cinema St. Louis (CSL), continues to provide the opportunity for St. Louis filmgoers to view the finest in world cinema — international films, documentaries, American indies, and shorts that can only be seen at the festival.

Because of the Covid-19 health crisis, the 29th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival will be presented virtually in 2020. This short video provides more information on CSL’s decision to move all of its 2020 festivals and events online.

CSL is partnering with Eventive, which also handles our ticketing, to present the Virtual Festival.

Please note that access to most SLIFF programs will be restricted to Missouri and Illinois, but select programs are available either in the full U.S. or throughout the world. Check the listing for the film or program on this website or on the Eventive Virtual Festival Catalog to determine whether it's available in your area.

VIRTUAL FESTIVAL BASICS

Although many elements of this year’s Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival will remain familiar to longtime supporters, the fest is obviously not unspooling in its usual fashion. Here are the key elements of the Virtual Festival:

Program Availability: The majority of SLIFF’s lineup of features and shorts programs will be available to view on demand anytime from Nov. 5-22. Eighteen films will have a more limited window of availability (e.g., 24 hours, 48 hour, 7 days) and have a defined date range for access. That information is noted in each film’s listing, but complete information on those films can be found in the Time-Limited Events section.

Watch Window: Once a ticket-holder begins watching a program, access to it remains available for 48 hours. (The one exception is the film “The Dark Divide,” which has a watch window of 8 hours.)

Geo-Restrictions: Please note that access to most SLIFF programs will be restricted to Missouri and Illinois, but select programs are available either in the full U.S. or throughout the world. Check the listing for the film or program on this website or on the Eventive Virtual Festival Catalog to determine whether it's available in your area.

Livestreams: Special Events (opening-night event, closing-night awards presentation, New Filmmakers Forum roundtable, and master classes) will be offered as livestreams at specific times/dates.

Q&As: Although no guests can attend the festival, recorded Q&As with filmmakers and/or documentary subjects will accompany many of the programs.

Full information on access, including system requirements, is found in the Virtual Fest FAQ.

Help with playing films on your TV (through HDMI, casting/airplay, or apps) is found here.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

This year’s festival kicks off with a free opening-night special event featuring the short “8:46” — which records a powerful performance by comedian Dave Chappelle in response to the killing of George Floyd — and a live conversation with Dave Chappelle and the film’s Oscar-winning directors, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert.

Below are some of the other highlights of this year’s SLIFF:

The Divided City
SLIFF’s The Divided City program focuses on the racial divide in St. Louis and other U.S. cities. The program also offers an international perspective with “Lost Lives” and “Mayor.” The program is supported by The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative, an initiative of Washington U.’s Center for the Humanities that addresses one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.
Sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at Washington University

Free Programs
SLIFF continues its tradition of offering a large selection of free events to maximize its outreach into the community and to make the festival affordable to all. In addition, for the 17th year, we present the Georgia Frontiere Cinema for Students Program, which provides free screenings to St. Louis-area schools. Among this year’s 56 free programs are the following: all programs in The Divided City and Human Rights Spotlight; 17 of the 21 programs in Race in America: The Black Experience; three special-event livestreams; six master classes (and four film supplements to those classes); 12 documentary-shorts programs; and two family-film shorts programs. See the Free Events section for full details.

Georgia Frontiere Cinema for Students Program
SLIFF offers free daytime screenings for children and teens from participating St. Louis-area schools. This year’s selections include shorts, documentary features, narrative features, and shorts programs. See the Cinema for Students section of the SLIFF website for full information.
Sponsored by Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rosenbloom (in honor of Georgia Frontiere) and the Hawkins Foundation, with support from Brown Smith Wallace and the Jane M. & Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation

Human Rights Spotlight
This selection of documentaries focuses on human-rights issues in the U.S. and the world.
Sponsored by International and Area Studies at Washington University and Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society for International and Area Studies at Washington University

Master Classes
SLIFF provides six free master classes. See the Special Events section for full information.
Co-presented by Webster University Film Series
Sponsored by the Chellappa-Vedavalli Foundation

New Filmmakers Forum
The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF), a juried competition of works by first-time feature filmmakers, is an annual highlight of SLIFF. The featured films this year are “Easy-Bake,” “Killing Eleanor,” “The Last Rafter,” “A Shot Through the Wall,” and “Small Time,” and the filmmakers will participate in a free roundtable discussion. The screenings and roundtable are hosted by the Missouri Film Office’s Andrea Sporcic Klund. The NFF Emerging Filmmaker Award — nicknamed the Bobbie in honor of the late Bobbie Lautenschlager, NFF’s longtime curator — is presented at SLIFF’s Closing-Night Awards Presentation.

Sponsored by Barry & Jackie Albrecht and Pat Scallet

Race in America: The Black Experience
Because the events in Ferguson continue to resonate in St. Louis and the country, SLIFF again offers a large number of programs organized under the title Race in America: The Black Experience.  To maximize accessibility and promote dialogue, 17 of the 21 programs in Race in America are offered for free, including the opening-night special event featuring the short “8:46” and a livestreamed conversation with comedian Dave Chappelle and directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert.

Show-Me Cinema
Films made in St. Louis and Missouri or by current and former St. Louisans and Missourians are an annual focus of SLIFF. This year’s lineup of Show-Me Cinema is especially strong, featuring 24 programs.
Sponsored by the Missouri Division of Tourism and Missouri Film Office

SLIFF/Kids Family Films                  
Cinema St. Louis presents a selection of five family programs, including two free collections of shorts.