Passport Series VIII

Hello all,
We're thrilled to present the lineup for the Passport Series, Ragtag's eighth annual exploration and celebration of new international cinema. This year's lineup once again gives us a chance to look at international stories through the eyes of distinct, talented filmmakers.

For instance, debut director Alex Pitstra's DIE WELT immerses us in Tunisia as it struggles to find its post-revolution identity. To explore this heavy subject matter, Pitstra picks an unlikely protagonist: a young, frustrated video store employee. By this point, we anticipated a great film about the Arab Spring, but we didn't expect to find one this funny and imaginative.

We were similarly surprised by Hong Kong director Johnnie To's DRUG WAR, an unpredictable crime narrative about police officers and their unreliable informants. On the surface, it's simply a superb action film, but as we'll discuss after the film ends, To – a Hong Kong director shooting in Mainland China for the first time – is quietly, slyly subverting his government's strict censorship rules.

The Passport Series also serves as an introduction to emerging talent. Two great examples:

THE STRANGE LITTLE CAT, a Jacques Tati-like chamber piece set inside a German apartment complex, was one of the best received films at this year's Berlin Film Festival. It also happens to be the debut feature of Ramon Zürcher, a young film student who still hasn't completed his thesis project.

VIOLA is the latest film from prolific, 31-year-old Buenos Aires-based filmmaker Matías Piñeiro. Dozens of directors have struggled to bring Shakespeare's language to the modern world, but with his revelatory VIOLA — a magical, mysterious film about an acting troupe rehearsing TWELFTH NIGHT — Piñeiro has gracefully succeeded. He joins us for two screenings on special dates: Tuesday, Oct. 15 and Wednesday, Oct. 16.

We've briefly touched on half the lineup. We encourage you to read this year's program descriptions (on the right hand side of this page) to get a sense of what's on tap this year.

And if you've never attended a Passport screening, here's how it works: at 6:30pm each Wednesday and Thursday in September and October, we present a new international movie. When you pick up your ticket at the box office, you'll receive a pocket-sized "passport," which we'll stamp. If you plan on attending multiple films in the series, please hold on to that passport and continue to get it stamped throughout the series; those who see six of the eight films are eligible for a closing night drawing to win two passes to the St. Louis International Film Festival, which takes place just weeks after the Passport Series concludes. If you're 21+, you'll also be handed a drink ticket, which is good for one pour of an international wine (in most cases, this wine will be from near the film's setting). After the film ends, we'll host a local ambassador (a mid-Missouri resident with a connection to the film's setting), who will provide some context in a casual post-screening group discussion.

Thanks to Passport Series 2013 sponsor LaBrunerie Financial for their generous support.  Thanks also to National Endowment for the Arts and the Missouri Arts Council for their financial support, to KBIA for their media partnership and to our friends at Uprise Bakery and Golden Barrel Distribution, who once again are partnering to pair each film with a regional wine. Thanks to Cinema St. Louis for donating our grand prize, a pass to The 22nd Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Fest Nov. 14-24, 2013. 

Thanks also to our ambassadors, who graciously donate their time each week. And finally, thanks to all of you who have continued to support this series over the years. It's been a pleasure to experience and discuss all these films with you.

We hope you enjoy this year's lineup. As always, if you have any questions about the lineup, don't hesitate to reach out.

See you at the movies!

Chris Boeckmann, Associate Programmer, 573.673.7387