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8 Films Not to Miss from Cinema St. Louis’ Virtual Festivals

Traditional film festivals are out of the question in 2020, but not to worry: Cinema St. Louis is offering smaller-scale virtual events, including the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, with films on demand July 10–19, and the Classic French Film Festival, streaming July 17–23. Cliff Froehlich, the executive director, picked these eight films as standouts.

1. Marguerite Duras’ films aren’t easily accessible in the United States, but the Classic French Film Festival has managed to secure what is widely considered her masterpiece, India Song(1975). In 1930s India, a French ambassador’s wife feels extreme discontent with her life, sleeping with a string of men out of boredom. “It’s very experimental in its approach,” Froehlich says. “There’s no dialogue in the film in the sense that the characters don’t speak to each other, but you hear disembodied dialogue and you never quite know who’s speaking.”

2. Writer/director Jacob T. Martin produced Resolution (2019), part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, with his sister, Loren Martin Goudreau. The duo is passionate about filmmaking and their Midwestern roots, which is why the film’s heartbeats in St. Louis despite the New York City setting. The film itself compares the two cities as it studies a couple who break up before guests arrive for their New Year’s Eve party.

3. Based on Scott Reynolds Nelson’s book Steel Drivin’ Man, The Ballad of John Henry (2019) presents a new perspective on a famous tall tale taught in classrooms across the country. The film sheds new light on an unjust legal system developed after the Civil War that replaced slavery with the convict lease program.

4. In Olivia (1951), Jacqueline Audry dreams up a 19th-century girls’ boarding school where two mistresses of the house compete for the affections of their students. Although it does not address same-sex relationships directly, the film explores the students’ discovery of love and attraction. Shutting away her young actresses in a Gothic space, Audry, one of few female French filmmakers working in her time, creates a world almost without men and makes a fundamentally feminist film. “It’s not necessarily overt, but it’s provocative for a film released in 1951,” Froehlich says.

5. America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill (2020)explores, beginning with Italian immigration, the history of the St. Louis neighborhood, revealing that it’s truly the last of a dying breed. Born and raised in St. Louis, director Joseph Puleo graduated from Lindenwood University’s film school. His short film “Top Son” screened at the prestigious Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.

6. In June 2014, days before his 21st birthday, University of Missouri student Ryan Candice died by suicide. Shocked, his friends set out to learn and educate others about one of the fastest-growing causes of death in the United States. Wake Up (2019) tells stories from the front lines of suicide prevention across the country, highlighting communities most affected by the epidemic.

7. René Clément’s thriller Rider on the Rain (1970) stars legend Charles Bronson. When a masked assailant stalks and rapes a young woman, she kills the man in self-defense and dumps his body over a cliff instead of calling the police. Her world is turned upside down when an American investigator (Bronson) shows up and seems to know everything about what she’s done.

8. At the age of 15, Anthony Monaghan had no choice but to leave his native Ireland in search of work abroad. Eventually he settled in St. Louis, where he founded Monaghan Productions and made the internationally acclaimed documentary Rednecks + Culchies. Monaghan’s new documentary, My Ireland (2019), exposes the forces responsible for economic migration in his homeland, the wrongful eviction of thousands of homeowners, and the escalation of homelessness. In search of answers, Monaghan travels the nation for interviews.

Article originally posted by STLMag