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St. Louis’ Annual Film Festival Puts Focus On Race

Cinema St. Louis website

The 2014 St. Louis International Film Festival will emphasize a topic that’s now foremost in the minds of many in our area: race.

Recent local events prompted Cinema St. Louis' SLIFF to create the “Race in America: The Black Experience"program in its Nov. 13-23 festival. Its offerings include discussions as well as film screenings.

Many are free of charge, including “Doc Shorts: Black Lives Matter,”a series of four short films shown on Nov. 14. One is by artist Kehinde Wiley, who is well-known for his portraits of African-American men, including one shown in a current local art exhibition called “Other Ways; Other Times: Influences of African-American Tradition from St. Louis Collections.”

Other free events include a Nov. 18 screening of “Elegy for Connie” by local artist Sarah Paulsen.“Elegy” explores the 2008 Kirkwood shooting that left six dead, including council member Connie Karr.

Cinema St. Louis' executive director Cliff Froehlich said the emphasis on films about race will help move forward an important conversation.

“That will definitely promote some, I think, fascinating discussion across the racial divide about sort of racist impulses and attitudes and behaviors that we don’t think about," Froehlich said. "They’re totally unconscious on both sides, whether you be black or white."

Screenings of “Through a Lens Darkly,” “Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow”  and  “I’m Not Racist … Am I?” are also offered at no charge.

A “Through a Lens Darkly” series will continue for several months after the festival is over, with more filmmakers coming to St. Louis to screen and talk about their work.

In addition to "Race in America: The Black Experience," the festival also offers seven free events exploring dance on film.

In all, 165 full-length feature and documentary films are part of the 2014 event.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.