The 26th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), which kicked off on Nov. 2, concluded on Nov. 12. Total attendance was just shy of 25,000: 24,743.

SLIFF screened 372 films: 82 narrative features, 63 documentary features, and 227 shorts. The fest also featured 13 special-event programs, including four free master classes. This year’s festival had 64 countries represented.

SLIFF honored a quartet of significant film figures with our annual awards: Pam Grier (“Bad Grandmas” and “Jackie Brown”) with a Women in Film Award; Sam Pollard (“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” and “ACORN and the Firestorm”) with a Lifetime Achievement Award; Marco Williams (“Tell Them We Are Rising”) with a Contemporary Cinema Award; and Washington U. grad Dan Mirvish (the Jules Feiffer-written “Bernard and Huey”) with a Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award.

SLIFF announced the winners of its juried and audience-award competitions at the closing-night party at Urban Chestnut’s Grove Brewery and Bierhall on the evening of Nov. 12. The following awards were presented:

Shorts Awards

Juries choose the winners of seven awards from among the shorts in competition. 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. The 2017 winners:

Best Documentary Short: “Crown Candy” by Kamau Bilal & David Wilson

Best Local Short: “Sanctuary” by Ashley Seering & Cory Byers

Best Short Short: “The Shadow” by Isaac Switzer

Best International Short: “Wicked Girl” by Ayce Kartal

Best Animated Short: “Cerulia” by Sofía Carrillo

Best Live-Action Short: “Flip the Record” by Marie Jamora

Best of Fest: “Yes, God, Yes” by Karen Maine

Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then Short Documentary Pitch Competition

Tribeca Film Institute, in partnership with SLIFF, sought short documentary projects by filmmakers living and working in the Midwest for its new IF/Then Short Documentary Program, made possible with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Five projects were invited to enter the IF/Then pitch competition earlier this afternoon. A jury then met to determine the winner of up to $20,000 to finish their film and a one-year distribution initiative managed by Tribeca Film Institute.

Winner: “Bridges” directed by Sohib Boundaoui and produced by Assia Boundaoui

Honorable Mention (and $1,000 cash prize): “On the Bit” directed by Ashley S. Brandon and

produced by Nevo I. Shinaar

Interfaith Awards

Juries gives Interfaith Awards to both a documentary and a narrative, choosing from among 10 competition films (five 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. The 2017 winners:

Best Documentary Feature: “Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder

Capital of the World” by Bradley Coley

Best Narrative Feature: “Mawlana” by Magdi Ahmed Ali

Midrash Award

Midrash St. Louis engages myriad aspects of American culture — hot topics, deep subjects, music, arts, and film — and seeks to give and receive commentary on the subjects and issues that matter to people in St. Louis and that form and shape our views and lives. The Midrash St. Louis Film Award celebrates St. Louis-related films of honesty and artistry that portray the need or the hope for reconciliation or redemption. These are among the most powerful and worthy themes that films should explore. Eligible work for the Midrash St. Louis Film Award includes feature and short films largely shot in St. Louis or directed by filmmakers with strong local ties. The award comes with a cash prize of $500. The 2017 winner:

For Ahkeem” directed by Jeremy Levine & Landon Van Soest

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. The 2017 winners:

Best Documentary Feature: “When I Was 6, I Killed a Dragon” directed by Bruno Romy

Best Narrative Feature: “Black Cop” directed by Cory Bowles

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. The 2017 winners:

Special Award for Outstanding Performance: Olajuwon Davis in “Palacios”

Emerging Director Award (“The Bobbie”): “Becks” directed by Dan Powell & Liz Rohrbaugh

Best of Fest Audience Choice Awards

Audience voting determines the winner of three awards from among the films in competition. The 2017 winners:

Leon Award for Best Documentary Film: “Gabe” directed by Luke Terrell

TV5MONDE Award for Best International Film: “Call Me by Your Name” directed by Luca Guadagnino

Best Film: “Fanny’s Journey” directed by Lola Doillon

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