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Arts & Entertainment

Best Film Series 

Webster University

With the proliferation of art houses in town -- the Plaza Frontenac, the Tivoli, the Chase, the Hi-Pointe -- you'd swear that any film of substance has played at least briefly on one of their screens. But you'd be wrong. Even movies that generate significant buzz in the national press bypass St. Louis all too frequently, especially if the language their characters speak isn't English. The St. Louis International Film Festival fills some of the gaps left by the art houses, but the town's movie lovers should remain forever grateful that the indispensable Webster University Film Series (Winifred Moore Auditorium, 470 E. Lockwood Ave., 314-968-7487) provides a year-round forum for the difficult, the outré and the simply foreign. Series director Vicki Woods and program coordinator Catherine Cathers never fail to curate a fascinating mix of overlooked and undervalued films. Not every program will be to your taste -- the recent three-night run of Contemporary Austrian Video was conspicuously narrow in its appeal -- but the range and depth of the choices ensures there will always be a few must-sees. The current schedule is no exception, featuring three major series: eight recent works from Latin America, a quartet of contemporary French films (including Bruno Dumont's much-discussed L'Humanité and Erick Zona's The Little Thief) and a dozen documentaries in the ambitious Margaret Mead Traveling Film & Video Festival. All that, plus revivals of Akira Kurosawa's Ran and Marcel Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity and the local premiere of the restored Saragossa Manuscript. And let's not slight the Webster-sponsored Cinema in the City series, monthly screenings of such camp classics as The Tingler (Oct. 4) and The Invasion of the Saucer-men (Nov. 1) at the City Museum.

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