2023 St. Louis Film Festival features sports offerings starting November 9

Compiled by staff from press release and website information

The 32nd Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) Celebrates the Power of Film Nov. 9-19, 2023 at The Hi-Pointe Theatre

Cinema St. Louis (CSL) is thrilled to unveil the 32nd Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), set to captivate audiences from November 9th to 19th at the historic Hi-Pointe Theatre, CSL’s new forever home, as well as at multiple venues across the city including the Alamo Drafthouse, Webster University, Washington University and more.

There are some sports offerings this year and one is “We Dare to Dream,” which follows athletes on their journey to become part of the refugee Olympic team.

“We Dare to Dream” is the story of refugee athletes from Iran, Syria, South Sudan and Cameroon who swim, run and fight their way to opportunity and safety in host nations across the world. Spanning a breadth of backgrounds, personal stories and Olympic sports, the film reveals the lives and hopes of refugee athletes training to compete on the world stage, showing the fire and the drive of young people forced to leave their families, homes and countries of birth to build new lives out of nothing.

Directed by Academy Award nominated Waad al-Kateab (“For Sama”), executive produced by Angelina Jolie and produced by Academy Award-winner Joanna Natasegara (“The White Helmets,” “Virunga,” “The Edge of Democracy”) and Emmy-winning producer Abigail Anketell-Jones (“The Edge of Democracy,” “The Nightcrawlers”) of Violet Films, two time Academy Award-nominated producer, Bryn Mooser (“Body Team 12,” “Lifeboat”) and Kathryn Everett of XTR Studios and Joe Gebbia of Studio Gebbia, “We Dare to Dream” tells the amazing stories of young refugee athletes aiming to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. This is their story of resilience and inspiration, hardship and loss, hope and home.

Another sports movie is “Bike Vessel.”

An African-American filmmaker explores health disparities within the Black community through the lens of his father, Donnie Seals Sr., who almost died after three open-heart surgeries. Nearly 20 years later, Seals makes a miraculous health recovery after discovering his love for bicycling.

Below is a highlighted list of Sports films screening at the 32nd St. Louis International Film Festival, November 9-19 (along with their film/event info). The full descriptions of films can be found by clicking the hyperlinks

Highlights of this year’s fest include: 

  • SLIFF’s Opening Night Party on 11/9 at the Hi-Pointe, where the fest will celebrate 50 Years of Hip-Hop in St. Louis, as explored through both film and music
  • Signe Baumane on hand to accept this year’s Women in Film Award at a showing of her newest film, “My Love Affair with Marriage” on 11/11
  • La Passion de Dodin Bouffant” (Taste of Things), Cannes award winner for director Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024 and will screen on 11/12 at the Hi-Pointe Theatre
  • Director Alexander Payne to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, while showcasing not only his newest film on 11/14“The Holdovers,” but also his modern classic, “The Descendants,” on 11/15
  • A screening of The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award winner, “American Fiction,” on 11/17, directed and written by Cord Jefferson, co-starring St. Louis’s favorite son, Sterling K. Brown.
  • Highlighting the lives of the LGBTQ+ community, SLIFF’s QFest Spotlight Film“All of Us Strangers,” from Searchlight Pictures, the critically acclaimed romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh, starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy, will close the festival on 11/19
  • The festival will culminate on Sunday, November 19th, with the much-anticipated Awards Party, featuring an insightful conversation with Reginald Hudlin, during which he will be bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The festival kicks off on Thursday, November 9th, celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop with a tribute to the Hi-Pointe Cafe’s pivotal role in shaping hip-hop’s history, showcasing the city’s significant influence in its evolution. Attendees will be treated to a cocktail reception, engaging conversations, and a special screening of the 1990 film, “House Party,” directed by East St. Louis’ own, Reginald Hudlin.

“As we celebrate our first festival at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, we wanted to pay tribute to the Hi-Pointe neighborhood and honor those who made Hip-Hop what it is today,” said CSL’s Executive Director, Bree Maniscalco,  “Mondays at the Hi-Pointe Cafe holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and we’re looking to bring it back to kick things off in style for this year’s Fest.”

This year’s festival promises a variety of exclusive events, screenings, enlightening post-film Q&A sessions, and illuminating masterclasses dedicated to addressing industry-relevant topics. SLIFF received an impressive 2,419 submissions, marking the festival’s 32nd anniversary with record-breaking enthusiasm. SLIFF’s dedicated team of programmers, hailing from diverse backgrounds, meticulously curated a selection of 278 remarkable films that underscore the transformative power of cinema.

The lineup includes 54 captivating narrative features, 52 thought-provoking documentary features, and an astounding 172 short films, all part of its prestigious Oscar-qualifying annual Shorts Competition. These films delve deep into a spectrum of compelling themes, ranging from art, the environment, human rights, and racial equity, to name just a few. What’s more, they authentically represent perspectives from 32 countries, encompassing an astounding 39 native languages, ensuring that SLIFF remains a truly international celebration of storytelling through film.


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