Cinema St. Louis Launches Films @ SLIFF.ZACK Series With Documentary “Gentlemen Of Vision”
Those living in the reel world will be delighted to know there is a new local outlet for seeing independent films. Cinema St. Louis, the team behind the St. Louis International Film Festival, QFest, the Classic French Film Festival, The 48 Hour Film Project and the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase has added a new series to their repertoire.
Founded in 1992, Cinema St. Louis is dedicated to promoting the art of cinema, expanding the variety of cinema experiences locally. A believer in collaboration, Cinema St. Louis has now teamed up with the Kranzberg Foundation’s .ZACK Theatre for a series of screenings on Mondays, January through September 2017 thus far. Entitled Films @ SLIFF.ZACK,” the inaugural program features independent films, documentaries and shorts, as well as international and restored films—including many that won awards at the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival.
Cinema St. Louis Executive Director Cliff Froehlich commented on how the partnership with .ZACK came to fruition: “We approached them when I saw the announcement about .ZACK. I contacted the Kranzbergs and asked if they were planning on incorporating digital projection of any fashion into the facility. They immediately thought that it sounded intriguing and decided to move forward. Then we looked at the structure of the space, which was still very much in process at the time, but it seemed like it was going to work. They made the commitment to install the digital projection, the screen and all that was necessary in order to enable digital presentation of film. Then we made the commitment to be there during the festival last year.”
As Froehlich notes, bringing these films to the .ZACK allows the organization to present year-round programming. “We have filled in around each of our existing festivals so that we have something going on virtually every month. We wanted to have some sort of ongoing presence with a series, but didn’t want to compete with Webster University Film Series. We wanted to make sure we were filling an actual niche that hadn’t been filled.”
The series began on Jan. 16 with “Gentlemen of Vision,” a locally produced Nine Network documentary that drew rave reviews when it screened in an extended format, to a packed house at last year’s St. Louis International Film Festival.
“Gentlemen of Vision” chronicles a group of teenagers growing up in the struggling working-class suburbs of St. Louis County, balancing their passion for stepping with education and family life. At the team’s center is founding member Marlon Wharton, who built out the team and led them to national prominence. The documentary looks at Wharton’s success as both a mentor and life coach for his team. On and off the clock he remains a stickler for discipline, maximum effort and good academics while also encouraging his team to develop and follow a clear plan for their future after they graduate.
Michael Leary of Midrash St. Louis, a local nonprofit that sponsored the film, introduced “Gentlemen of Vision” and lead an after-film audience discussion with directors Jim Kirchherr and Frank Popper, as well as the subject of the film, Marlon Wharton. The program also included a performance from members of the Gentlemen of Vision.
“Films @ SLIFF.ZACK” continues on Feb. 13 with program featuring short-film award winners from the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival. Future offerings are planned for April 3, June 27, July 31 and Sept. 25 of 2017, with the featured films to be announced. A recent addition to Grand Center, the .ZACK is located at 3224 Locust Street. Admission for the movies are free, but seating is limited, and early arrival is encouraged (doors open at 6:30pm).