The 29th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) held virtually this year, concluded with the livestreamed closing-night awards presentation.
The top jury award for Best Documentary Feature went to 9to5: The Story of a Movement, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; and Beasts Clawing at Straws, directed by Kim Yong-Hoon won both Jury and Audience awards for Best Narrative Feature.
Other Audience Award winners include Best Narrative Feature went to Asia, directed by Ruthy Pribar; and Best Documentary Feature went to God Save the Wings, directed by Adam Knapp and Kenneth Linn.
The festival screened 374 films with a total estimated viewership of 26,100, including 10,400 St. Louis-area students who participated in the free Cinema for Students program.
29th St. Louis International Film Festival Award Winners
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, Best Live Action, and Best Documentary categories eligible to submit for Oscar consideration.
Best Documentary Short: Colette, directed by Anthony Giacchino
Best Short Short: R.A.S., directed by Lucas Durkheim
Best International Short: The Cut, directed by Chloé Cinq-Mars
Best Animated Short: To the Dusty Sea, directed by Héloïse Ferlay
Best Live Action Short: Black Goat, directed by Yi Tang
Best of Fest Short: Josiah, directed by Kyle Laursen
Juries give Interfaith Awards to both a documentary and a narrative, choosing from among 16 competition films (eight 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.
Best Documentary Feature: A Place to Breathe, directed by Michelle Grace Steinberg
Best Narrative Feature: I Am You, directed by Sonia Nassery Cole
St. Louis Film Critics Association Joe Pollack and Joe Williams Awards
In conjunction with the St. Louis Film Critics organization, SLIFF holds juried competitions for documentary and narrative features. The awards are named in honor of the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch critics Joe Pollack (narrative) and Joe Williams (documentary). The winners are picked by two juries composed of St. Louis film critics. SLIFF chose eight films to compete in each category.
Best Documentary Feature: 9to5: The Story of a Movement, directed by Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert
Best Narrative Feature: Beasts Clawing at Straws, directed by Kim Yong-Hoon
Essy Awards for Best St. Louis Films
SLIFF inaugurated a new juried competition at this year’s festival: The Essy Awards, which honor works either made in St. Louis or by a filmmaker with ties to the area. The awards — for Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Narrative Feature — are accompanied by $250 prizes.
Best Documentary Short: I Want to Make a Film About Women, directed by Karen Pearlman
Best Narrative Short: Augustus, directed by Jon Alston
Best Documentary Feature: Zappa, directed by Alex Winter
Best Narrative Feature: Test Pattern, directed by Shatara Michelle Ford
New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Director Award (The Bobbie)
The New Filmmakers Forum (NFF) annually presents the Emerging Director Award. Since its inception, NFF was co-curated by Bobbie Lautenschlager. Bobbie died in the summer of 2012, and SLIFF honors her memory by nicknaming the NFF Emerging Director Award as the Bobbie. Five works by first-time feature filmmakers competed for the prize, which includes a $500 cash award.
Small Time, directed by Niav Conty
Spotlight on Inspiration Documentary Award
The Road Up, directed by Greg Jacobs & Jon Siskel
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Documentary Award
In addition to SLIFF’s annual audience awards, the fest partnered with the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality to present a new audience award. Attendees of SSSS’s virtual conference, which coincided with SLIFF, viewed three films — “Cured,” “The Dilemma of Desire,” and “Transhood” — in a program that the organization co-presented with the fest. The conference attendees voted on the award, which is accompanied by a $500 cash prize.
Transhood, directed by Sharon Liese
Best of Fest Audience Choice Awards
Best Documentary Short: Always Coming Back, directed by Nate Townsend
Best Narrative Short: The Mirror, directed by Joel Kohn
Leon Award for Best Documentary Feature: God Save the Wings, directed by Adam Knapp & Kenneth Linn
TV5MONDE Award for Best International Feature: Beasts Clawing at Straws, directed by Kim Yong-Hoon
Best Narrative Feature: Asia, directed by Ruthy Pribar