Commentary on Culture | Midrash Blog

Midrash Film Award — And the winner is....

The jury for the Midrash St. Louis Film Award is pleased to announce its selection of the film Four-Way Stop as the winner of the 2015 Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival (“SLIFF”).  We give this award each year to a film which has a St. Louis connection, and which portrays, with artistry and honesty, the hope or the need for reconciliation and redemption. The Award comes with a cash prize of $500, the largest cash prize at SLIFF. The film was recognized at the SLIFF Award Ceremony on November 22, and Midrash Director Bob Oesch granted the award and met actors in the film.  

Our jury praised this film for its bold exploration of the crossroads and obstacles involved during a young African American male’s attempt to find a job in the City of St. Louis. The local context was authentically realized. Whether you drive around in North City or South City, you’ll see lots of brick, and endless stop signs. Virtually every intersection is a four way stop. Every time you start to get some momentum you have to stop again; the obstacles to get anywhere seem endless. So too are the obstacles in the way of Allen, our protagonist, getting a job.  Some obstacles are from without — racism, poverty, pressure to sell drugs, a severely broken family, a drug-addicted dad, and some obstacles are from within, such as immaturity and lack of punctuality. But, while Allen is surrounded by brokenness, he’s not permeated by it — his “wanter” is not broken.  He wants good, noble and worthy things — to help his mom, to love his dad, to make a living without crime to respect his parents, to persevere. His wanter is unbroken, while everything around him is very messy and broken indeed. The film makes these tensions and challenges real, and relatable.  

The film’s St. Louis connection is pervasive.  Director Efi Di Silva was born in St. Louis and all actors were St. Louisans. The film was shot along Cherokee Street, the Central West End and South City neighborhoods.  The local setting made the themes of the film real, and hard-felt.

A good script, a well-shot film exploring timely and difficult subjects makes Four-Way Stop a film worthy of time and discussion.