Audiences Pick "Perfect" at St. Louis Fest
by Maud Kersnowski
Audiences at the St. Louis Film Festival, touted as a Mid-western testing
ground, picked Bosnia's "The Perfect Circle (Savrseni Krug)" and two other
foreign language films as their favorites, over big-budget indies, "The Ice Storm" and "The Wings Of The Dove". The six year old event mixes Hollywood and
major independent films with more obscure films which the Missouri audience
might never have the opportunity to see outside the festival.
To the surprise of the festival, and probably Hollywood, the St. Louis
audience seems to be willing to take a chance on something different. With
a 50/50 mix of English and non-English speaking films, this year saw a 10%
rise in attendance. "When we try the adventurous stuff they keep coming
back," said festival producer, Aurdry Hutti.
The St. Louis Festival bills itself, both to filmmakers and distributors,
as a middle-American screening. "It's a kind of 'how does it play in
Peoria' festival," said Dr. Rita Scapo-Sweet, of University of Missouri,
St. Louis's Center for International Studies which collaborates with the
festival on the foreign film program. "We're not New York or L.A. We're the
rest of the country, and we're not ashamed of it," continued Hutti.
Attracting filmmakers and special guests has been another emphasis of the
festival. This year's guest list included actor Tony Curtis, "The Deli"'s
John Gallagher, "Middle Of The Moment"'s co-director, Germany's Werner
Penzel, and 25 other filmmakers.
After the official festival concluded the Media Wave Video Festival, a
joint project with the Hungarian festival of the same name, started a three
day run. "It's a bit more edgy," Scapo-Sweet said of the videos. "A lot of
the work gives you a feeling of what it's like in Hungary today... Because
it's video, it's more immediate."