The 30th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) wrapped with the awards ceremony, with films winning awards include We Are the Thousand, directed by Anita Rivaroli; Luzzu, directed by Alex Camilleri; Berrigans: Devout and Dangerous, directed by Susan Hagedorn and 200 Meters, directed by Ameen Nayfeh.
Additionally, 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.
On the festival’s final day, SLIFF offered a Tribute to Mary Strauss and presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many contributions to Cinema St. Louis.
Two other filmmakers were also honored: Documentarian and native St. Louisan Nina Gilden Seavey, who presented a free special-event program called “My Fugitive” at the fest, received the Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award; and documentarian Deborah Riley Draper, whose film “Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority” screened at SLIFF, received the Women in Film Award.
This year’s festival was held both in person and online from Nov. 4-21, 2021. The fest had a total estimated viewership of 21,646, including 11,564 St. Louis-area students who participated in our free Cinema for Students program. There were 5,740 in-person attendees and 4,342 online viewers. A note on methodology: Because most virtual programs were watched at home by more than a single person, online viewership was estimated by multiplying the number of total programs purchased (2,481) by 1.75.
Award Winners of the 30th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International
Best Documentary Short: E14, directed by Peiman Zekavat
Best Short Short: Autumn Leaves, directed by Wojciech Ostrycharz
Best International Short: The Danger in Front, directed by Alexis Chartrand
Best Animated Short: Mila, directed by Cinzia Angelini
Best Live Action Short: Dana, directed by Lucía Forner Segarra
Best of Fest Short: The Letter Room, directed by Elvira Lind
Best Documentary Feature: Berrigans: Devout and Dangerous, directed by Susan Hagedorn
Best Narrative Feature: 200 Meters, directed by Ameen Nayfeh
St. Louis Film Critics Association Joe Pollack and Joe Williams Awards
Best Documentary Feature: We Are the Thousand, directed by Anita Rivaroli
Best Narrative Feature: Luzzu, directed by Alex Camilleri
Essy Award for Best St. Louis Film
Try Harder!, directed by Debbie Lum
New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Director Award (The Bobbie)
Shellfish, directed by Hunter Hopewell
Spotlight on Inspiration Documentary Award
A Once and Future Peace, directed by Eric Daniel Metzgar
Best of Fest Audience Choice Awards
Online and in-person audience voting determined the winner of seven awards from among the films in competition.
Online (for films offered virtually):
Best Documentary Short: Hammond’s Books, directed by Joshua Mullins
Best Narrative Short: Mila, directed by Cinzia Angelini
Best Documentary Feature: And So I Stayed, directed by Natalie Pattillo & Daniel A. Nelson
Best Narrative Feature: Gossamer Folds, directed by Lisa Donato
In Person (for films offered at in-person screenings):
Leon Award for Best Documentary Feature: Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, directed by Deborah Riley Draper
TV5MONDE Award for Best International Feature: Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh
Best Narrative Feature: After We’re Over, directed by Nate Myers