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Five Stars

"Best of the Fest" spotlights St. Louis International Film Festival winners


Whatever happened to dry-humping? In real life, teenagers and frightened Mormons do it all the time, but how come you never see it in films?

St. Louis director Bill Boll sets the record straight in April Is My Religion, his debut film, in which an ardent, drunken young fellow grinds away against his clothed, unrequited love. The unusual young lady in question just wants him to get it over with.

"I don't know -- I always wondered about that [the dearth of dry-humping scenes in films], because you see a lot of it in college dorms," says Boll. "It's for people who don't plan ahead."

Boll's coming-of-age tale concerns an uptight college freshman who discovers good friends, drugs and the object of his dry-hump, all in one dizzying, report-card-damaging rush. What his film does, perhaps more realistically than any big-budget effort, is capture the spirit of collegiate decadence. When lead character Jack wakes up on a couch in a strange apartment the morning after getting blitzed, or first tries acid, the scenes are rendered simply and truthfully (Boll was surprised to learn recently that the University of Denver Wellness Center screens April with Trainspotting and Less Than Zero in its drug-awareness presentations to students).

April is featured along with four other films that snagged awards in the last St. Louis International Film Festival in a "Best of the Fest" showcase presented by the Webster University Film Series. The others are Song of Tibet, in which a Chinese woman learns secrets from her grandmother's past; The Specials, a sometimes vulgar satire of superhero films; Acts of Worship, concerning a friendship between two women, an ambitious black photographer and a white junkie from Manhattan's Lower East Side; and The Tunnel, a masterful, suspenseful dramatization of the true story of a group of freedom fighters tunneling under the Berlin Wall in 1962 to rescue loved ones.

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