Cloud 9
Seamstress Inge (Ursula Werner), professorial husband Karl (Horst Westphal) and silver fox Werner (Horst Rehberg) form a Berlin love triangle with more than 200 collective years of experience. Rather than a tale of geriatric groove-getting, German director Andreas Dresen's film dwells on Inge's ambivalent compartmentalizing: She's in love with her reliable companion of three decades, yet newly contented with her escape from routine, yet demurring when pressed about her intentions. German theater veterans, the age-appropriate actors improvised their dialogue but often accomplish more through silence and the eloquence of their old faces. The psychology is rudimentary, however, and Werner, the caring Other Man, is little more than a sketch. Besides the frank, blithe sex scenes, a melodramatic ending aims to banish any last hope of gemütlichkeit, but the film comes to feel curiously incomplete, like one long fretful afternoon. Saturday, November 14, 9:30 p.m. at Plaza Frontenac. — Nicolas Rapold

In 500 Words or Less
The stress of applying to college — taking the SATs, gathering applications, writing the dreaded personal essay and waiting breathlessly for an acceptance letter — is the focus of this absorbing documentary. 500 Words follows four high school students and their families during their senior year: Laid-back, theater-loving Michael, who is the opposite of his Harvard-bound older sister; biracial Lindsay, whose mom has fought breast cancer for years and can no longer walk or communicate well; Leo, whose Dominican heritage becomes increasingly important to his college selection as the year progresses; and stressball Molly, who is worried that the wrong class or low test score will hurt her chances of getting into an elite college. Although 500 Words' premise is nothing new, the personalities of the highlighted students make it compelling. The scenes with Lindsay and her mother are especially heartbreaking, especially when she finds out about her college choice, while Molly's increasingly petulant attitude toward her parents — which is obviously borne out of application disappointment and immense self-pressure — will be familiar to anyone with kids. Sunday, November 15, 2:45 p.m. at the Tivoli. — Annie Zaleski

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement
Edie and Thea are like any old married couple who's very much in love: They finish each other's sentences, reminisce about their first meeting — which didn't turn into dating until several years and a few dances later — and laugh at old photos of themselves. However, the spunky ladies came of age in a time when being a lesbian wasn't as accepted — dismissal from college, disapproval from families, marching for acceptance and pressure to be straight were all part of Edie and Thea's lives. Using a series of faded photos, the very sweet, touching documentary lets the two tell the story of their 40-plus-years courtship, engagement and subsequent marriage in 2008. The shots where the pair looks back at youthful photos of themselves on a projection screen are adorable, and the modern-day shots of Edie taking care of Thea — who uses a wheelchair later in life due to chronic, progressive multiple sclerosis — are touching. Anybody who's ever been in love will be able to relate to Edie & Thea's depictions of deep affection and attraction — proving that love really does transcend gender or sexuality or the physical plane. Sunday, November 15, 1 p.m. at the Tivoli. — Annie Zaleski

Pressure Cooker
Anyone looking for a documentary modeled after the competitive cooking shows saturating cable TV should look elsewhere. Instead, the absorbing Pressure Cooker uses the culinary arts program at Frankford High School, an urban high school, as the backdrop for profiles of some resilient students. Erica, a cheerleader with divorced parents, takes care of her younger sister, who is blind. Football player Dudley also cares for his sassy younger sister, while juggling cooking and sports. And Fatoumata — who emigrated from Africa just four years ago — reconciles her background and future with soft-spoken determination. Teaching these kids the ropes is the school's culinary-arts instructor, Wilma Stephenson, a tough-but-kind firecracker who cares for her students like a proud mother hen. Cooker's story arc follows the kids during their senior year, culminating in an intense, city-wide cooking competition whose prizes are scholarship money. (In other words, their tickets out of inner-city Philadelphia.) The movie's glimpses into its subjects' personal lives are gently funny and heartbreaking, while Stephenson's fierce love for her students and desire to make them succeed is both admirable and moving. Oh, and anyone who's not crying during the film's denouement likely has a heart of stone. Sunday, November 15, 5 p.m. at the Tivoli.— Annie Zaleski
A spitting image of the Man in Black tries to find his way home in Branson.
A spitting image of the Man in Black tries to find his way home in Branson.


The St. Louis International Film Festival
Screenings take place at Webster University, the Hi-Pointe, the Tivoli, Plaza Frontenac and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Visit for more information.

Forgetting Dad
In Forgetting Dad's opening moments, a question pops onscreen: "If your father doesn't remember you, does he stop being your father?" "Pfft. No way, get outta here," you'll instinctively think. But the answer comes in the form of yet another question: "When are you going to stop calling me Dad?" asks the filmmaker's father, Richard. Along with his wife, Richard was rear-ended in a car crash in 1990. Though he suffered no immediate effects, within a week, his memory was gone. But neuroscientists can't find anything physically wrong with Richard's brain, his wife wasn't injured at all, and flashes of the "old Richard" surface every so often. As the speculation about the validity of Richard's injury continues, he becomes increasingly distant and paranoid: The old Richard was abusive, always on the run, in financial straits after a string of failed businesses and marriages, and his former employer was being investigated by the federal government. The filmmaker, Rick Minnich, combs through his father's depositions and diaries in the hope of quelling the nagging suspicion that the injuries are a decades-long farce, and the old Richard is still there, hiding in plain sight. Monday, November 16, 9:30 p.m. at the Tivoli.— Kristie McClanahan

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