St. Louis may not be known as the city of 8 million stories, or as the indie-film capital of the nation -- yet. But the lineup of more than 60 movies and videos for this year's St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase -- running Sunday, July 17, through July 21 at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-995-6270) -- makes the case for the Gateway City to grab hold of those titles, or at least one of them.
Now in its fifth year, the Filmmakers Showcase was birthed by Cinema St. Louis, the nonprofit group that also founded the St. Louis International Film Festival in 1992. All films featured in the showcase were created by area residents (or, in a few cases, expats), and the result is a plethora of films dealing with St. Louis and the St. Louis experience.
To wit: Ken Tipton's Heart of the Beholder (pictured), a feature-length film based on the true story of a young couple who opened St. Louis' first video-rental shop in 1981, then expanded the business into a multimillion-dollar company -- until a coalition of religious zealots, offended by videos it deemed obscene (including Splash -- really), schemed to shut down the business (screening Sunday at 6:30 p.m.). Victor Nash's five-minute music video for local rapper Jia Davis' hit single, "The Drought," screens during Tuesday's "Music Videos and Commercials" program at 5 p.m., along with Kevin Johnson's video and making-of-the-video documentary for DOA's "Packed"; both directors draw attention to St. Louis' abundance of hip-hop talent. Gregg Barson's documentary, Goodnight, We Love You (screening Tuesday at 7 p.m.), reveals talent of a different sort; he captures the hours prior to the final standup performance of one-time Webster Groves gal Phyllis Diller, bringing down the curtain on her 47-year career. And then there's the "Kid Stuff" program at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, which features a series of shorts made by students from the St. Louis Public Schools system and St. Margaret of Scotland School. Subjects include the importance of manners, the influence of Jackie Robinson on the civil rights movement and the origins of the 1904 World's Fair Birdcage at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Individual general-admission tickets are $9 ($8 for students) and are available in advance at the Tivoli box office. For more information call 314-454-0042, extension 10, or visit www.cinemastlouis.org. And for a more in-depth look at individual films, see In Review on page 41. -- Rose Martelli
Surely you've heard some variation of the saying "Life imitates art." Well, the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org) has added a new twist to that statement with its Plants as Art exhibit. This show -- which opens on Saturday, July 16, and remains on view in the Ridgway Center through July 24 -- includes cacti and succulents imitating art (as in the self-explanatory Bad Hair Day, pictured). Or does art really imitate these plants? Have a look at the exhibit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. any day, and decide for yourself; viewing is free with regular garden admission ($1.50 to $7). -- Alison Sieloff
MacroSun Also Rises
How many businesses celebrate grand openings in the average year? Quite a few. Ah, but how many businesses have a llama and a lama at their grand openings? Only MacroSun International (1310 Washington Avenue; 314-421-6400 or www.macrosun.com), probably. Technically, this is more of a re-opening for MacroSun, as the importers of handmade goods from across the globe have relocated from the Loop East to downtown. But quibble not over semantics: We're talking about llamas here. In addition to providing live Persian and Indian music, belly dancing, and a henna artist, MacroSun has arranged for both a four-legged, lovable llama and a two-legged, Tibetan-holy-man-style lama to attend the free festivities, which run from 1 to 5 p.m. And there's going to be a live water buffalo there, too. For luck, we're guessing. -- Paul Friswold
Trolley Good Day
Many times over Brennan's (4659 Maryland Avenue) has impressed loyal customers with its reasonably priced wines, tempting cheeses and variety of smokes. But now the wine shop/speakeasy has really outdone itself: It's offering $3 trolley rides to the free Whitaker Music Festival, which takes place at the Missouri Botanical Garden at 7 p.m. every Wednesday through the end of July. So this means no worrying about parking at the fest, no stressing about drinking and driving, no fretting about what you'll picnic on -- Brennan's will help you take care of everything! The evening begins with a wine tasting at the shop at 5 p.m., and then it's all aboard the trolley at 6 p.m. "Clang, clang, clang" went the wine bottles! To reserve your spot or for more information, call Brennan's at 314-361-9444. -- Alison Sieloff