After passing through the St. Louis airport several times these past few years, I was glad to finally get to see the city itself. Once the booming gateway to the West, St. Louis has seen better days, but it’s still a fascinating city in its own right.
Only hours after arriving and checking into the amazing Moonrise Hotel (definitely the hippest hotel room I’ve ever had), I bumped into Mike Williamson (from “Homemade Hillbilly Jam” – musician extraordinaire and former bassist, trombone, mouthbow and Sousaphone player from Big Smith) and Cindy Woolf at vintage clothing store on the Delmar Loop. What a surprise. They were in town playing a gig, and we ended up spending an entire afternoon together going to the City Museum (a fabulous playground that defies description) and the Gateway Arch. Along the way, they treated me to some fine singing and ukelele playing in the car. I just uploaded four videos to YouTube:
– “Tonight You Belong to Me”
– “I Only Want a Buddy”
– “If You Refuse Me”
– Riding up the Arch
The St. Louis Film Festival is much smaller and down-to-earth than Denver, and was relaxing to be at after the big gala events and flashiness in Denver. Only the weather was a bummer – non-stop rain. But it made for some dramatic views from the top of the Gateway Arch.
The screening at the Tivoli Theater went well. It’s a lovely old movie palace on the very cool Delmar Loop. Many thanks to festival director Cliff Froehlich for all his hospitality. I haven’t been to very many festivals where the festival director was so concerned about the welfare of his filmmakers. Thanks, Cliff! (That’s Cliff in the bright yellow T-Shirt in the photo with me)
Some guests of honor even drove over from Kansas to come to the screening – my mom and dad’s old high school friend Terry Robbins with her cousin and a friend. It was fun having dinner together at Blueberry Hill, where Chuck Berry will be playing a sold-out show tomorrow.
Some film highlights:
Joe Berlinger’s “Crude.” Joe was in town to receive a lifetime achievement award. Not bad for age 46. After missing the film at a few other festivals, I was glad to finally catch it here, and to meet Joe at last.
“In 500 Words or Less” – a fine documentary by Molly Fowler and Amanda Zinoman about four high school seniors struggling through the college application process. The film is a painful reminder of what I went through over 20 years ago (I don’t remember it being quite so stressful though), and made me definitely not want to put my own kids through such a grueling process. Do teenagers really need to be put under such immense pressure?
“Waiting for Hockney” (Julie Checkoway) – saw only about half the film, but I’ll try to catch the rest somewhere else. Looks like an amusing and sometimes heartfelt portrait of an obsessive artist who spends eight years on a hyperrealistic portrait of Marilyn Monroe, which he dreams of showing to David Hockney. Unfortunately, I missed the end because I had to go do my Q & A.