A preview of "Larger Than Life", "The Most Dangerous Year", and "Snapshots".


The 27th annual Whitaker St. Louis Film Festival will take place between November 1-11, featuring an array of titles, genres, subjects and presentations. The festival features assorted topics covering many global opinions and issues, including the QFest LGBTQ spotlight, Cinema St. Louis’ annual LGBTQ film festival, showcasing LGBTQ+ centric themes.


Many titles are featured in the QFest spotlight, including “Boy Erased,” starring Nichole Kidman and Russell Crowe, and “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” an adaption of the hit off-Broadway play.


Comprehensive scheduling and film information can be found at cinemastlouis.org.


Select titles that will be playing this year include:



“Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story,” Tiffany Bartok


Documenting the life and times of a world renowned makeup artist, “Larger Than Life,” shows the world of Kevyn Aucoin. For avid fans of Aucoin’s work, or those who just know the name, this film follows the captivating life, talents and celebrity of Kevyn Aucoin.


From his young days in Louisiana; from being adopted, dealing with homophobia in society, bullying and an obsession with Barbra Streisand to being a published author, trendsetter, makeup artist to A-Listers such as Cher, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Liza Minnelli, and more; Aucoin  is seen traveling the world and landing on the covers of Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.


Following Aucoin from his southern upbringing to his global status really illustrates the impact the artist had on the world of fashion. Bold and innovative, he became known for pushing the envelope and redefining beauty with his own creative vision.


The film also features many personal interactions with Aucoin, as he was an avid self documenter, taking numerous photos and videos, penning letters and journals, and also having a presence in media. These features add to a better understanding of who he was, his brilliance in make up, and his overall artistry.


As stated, this film will be very interesting to those who are connected with the work of Aucoin, as well as those who know little to nothing about him, due to the over-the-top, demanding, humorous and boisterous life that was Kevyn Aucoin.


This film features interviews with numerous icons, such as Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Brooke Shields and Cher. That alone is enough of a reason to watch.



“The Most Dangerous Year,” Vlada Knowlton


The film begins with a little girl saying some things she aspires to be when she grows up; the purity and innocence is obvious as she speaks. She is a transgender girl, and the film showcases her mother’s fight in what is deemed, “the most dangerous year.” The year is 2016, and the civil rights of the trans* community are under attack nationally (sound familiar?) by various bathroom bills, specifically the I-1515 ballot measure in Washington state.


Filmmaker Vlada Knowlton captures the struggle that trans* individuals, their families and their allies have endured as part of a vastly misunderstood minority. The most heartbreaking and heart warming part of the film is when Knowlton asks her daughter, “What does it mean to you to be a girl?” To which she replies, “It means that I can be who I am, and be happy.”


As Knowlton documents the fight that Washington Won’t Discriminate waged against Just Want Privacy’s ballot measure, one thing that shines through is that there is never any mud-slinging on their part. Using the opposing group's words against them is a perfect way to keep a clean argument while informing the audience rather than using faulty arguments to persuade.


Knowlton not only documents her own family’s experience, but that of other families with trans* children, which really drives the message home.


This film is impactful in the way that it captures trans* issues for people who identify as allies, as well as informing those who are opposed to and/or misunderstanding of trans* identity and their rights.



“Snapshots,” Melanie Mayron


The story of “Snapshots” follows a mother, a daughter and granddaughter through a weekend of confessions and revelations with affairs, pregnancy, acceptance and love.


Life abruptly changes after the discovery of a series of pictures the granddaughter had developed from an old camera that belonged to her grandmother. These images bring back memories that are relived, taking the story back to the 1960’s, complete with “The Twist” and Keds. Depicting the secret double life of a pristine housewife and her secret love affair with a woman, the stories intertwine and become exceedingly complicated for all involved.


Three time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie (from “Carrie” and “Twin Peaks” fame) is splendid in her portrayal of grandmother Rose, and makes this film one to see. The story of two lovers who must hide their true emotions reflects brilliantly on the all too real life that same-sex couples had prior to the more accepting atmosphere that has come in subsequent decades.


The story evolves as Rose keeps her family secrets close as they come tumbling out with interconnecting storylines, and to help her daughter understand acceptance and love for her own daughter.


There is an element of this story that does get a tad cliché, but it still doesn’t make it any less of a brilliant movie. “Snapshots” is a moving film that highlights an all too real time that is increasingly harder to understand in current society.



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