Sham Film Festival to Unleash Web's Best Short Parodies on St. Louis

Categories: Community, Movies

Courtesy of Matthew Newlin
A still from Little Man of Steel, which will be screened on October 24 during the Sham Film Festival.
In the past, the greatest film parodies were crafted by professionals. This is Spinal Tap, Airplane and The Naked Gun offered the highest-quality mockery money could buy, while sketch-comedy shows like SNL married production values with the funniest comedians in the world. Then the Internet came along, and parody videos exploded.

Matthew Newlin and John Reynolds want to celebrate those short-form parodies by putting them on a big screen. The two St. Louisans are organizing the first ever Sham Film Festival -- opening October 24 -- as a showcase for short-form film parodies that inhabit YouTube and sites like College Humor and Funny or Die.

"I kept seeing all these videos posted online, the fake movie trailers, the spoofs that people do themselves -- but they're excellent," says Newlin, 31, who came up with the idea for the festival about a year ago. "The quality and creativity and the originality is there, and these people are filmmakers that are not getting their due. Let's give them some attention."

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Library, Magic House Team Up to Help Ferguson Kids Cope with Crisis

Photo by Mitch Ryals
Wish wands made by Ferguson-Florissant students at the Flo-Valley Library last Thursday
A unicorn. A Blues Stanley Cup. An end to the violence in Ferguson. To finally start school. Peace.

These were the wishes children made at the Florissant Valley branch of the St. Louis County Library as they waited for the violence in Ferguson to calm down long enough for them to walk safely to school.

"Wish wands" decorated with pipe cleaners, construction paper and different-colored feathers offered a window into the thoughts of north-county elementary school kids during the three-day event last week. For some children, the violence, looting, protesting and shooting of Michael Brown was at the top of their minds. For others, Brown's death wasn't as concerning as the macaroni and cheese and pineapples they ate for lunch.

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With Schools Closed, Teachers and Volunteers Hold Class at Ferguson Library

Photo by Mitch Ryals
Shaila and Janeatha Evans show off their art projects at the Ferguson Public Library.

For the past three nights, Shaila Evans has packed her book bag and set it by the front door hoping to go to school the next day. And every morning she has been disappointed.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District was supposed to begin classes Thursday, August 14. Owing to the protests and riots, the district postponed the beginning of the school year to the following Monday, August 18, but then canceled classes for the entire week altogether.

"She's really anxious to start school," says her mother, Janeatha Evans. "She loves school, and she's been saying how she wants to start learning and making new friends."

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Volunteers Clean Up at Ferguson QuikTrip, Get Yelled At for "Helping the White Man"

Kathryn Banks
Volunteers clean at the QuikTrip after riots on Sunday night. Erica Hampton is in the middle holding a shovel.
Erica Hampton didn't let her two young children watch the chaos unfold in Ferguson Sunday night. But as the sun rose Monday morning to reveal smoldering ashes and broken glass, she sat down with her ten-year-old son to talk about the destruction wreaked on the town.

"We talked about it, and we decided to go help," Hampton tells Daily RFT. "I'm just really about my community. That's just me."

Hampton's friend lives near the QuikTrip that was looted and burned Sunday night, so that's where she, her son, her four-year-old daughter headed on Monday morning, ready to get to work. Armed with shovels donated from Home Depot, the volunteer cleaning crew cleared the parking lot, which was covered in food wrappers and trash as well as burned debris.

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Yet Another Ranking Says Saint Louis Zoo is Tops in U.S., World

Categories: Community

Steve Truesdell
"We're No. 4? No duh. What a yawn."
Here in St. Louis, we know our zoo is one of the best in the world. Now a ranking from travel site TripAdvisor makes that official.

Of the 275 top zoos in the world, the Saint Louis Zoo ranks at No. 4, between No. 5 Singapore Zoo in Singapore and No. 3 Loro Parque in Spain, according to TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice awards, released this week. Only two zoos in the country rank higher than the Lou's: Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, and the San Diego Zoo.

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"Save Yourselves": Mysterious Sign Pleads for Peace After Shooting Kills Man at Picnic

Categories: Community, Crime

Google Maps
Heman Park.
Even in a place like St. Louis, where gun battles all too often claim the lives of the players involved and the civilians on the sidelines, the shooting that killed a twenty-year-old man at the University City High School alumni picnic was heartbreaking.

What was supposed to be a pleasant summer afternoon reliving high school days with other alumni in Heman Park turned deadly by early evening. More than 1,000 people were still in the park when gunshots rang out, killing Mario Wallace, 20, and injuring a 39-year-old man.

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"Humans of St. Louis" Transforms New York Idea into Celebration of Local Lives

Categories: Community

Humans of St. Louis
"What are you doing? Taking pictures?" "Yeah." "Will you take my picture?"
The idea seems simple: Take someone's picture, ask a few questions and post a photo and a quote online. In the hyper-visual, emotionally demanding world of the Facebook news feed, the right portrait-quote combo can strike viral gold.

But there's a secret ingredient -- a breath of inspiration -- the lack of which can doom wannabes and imitators. Call it taste. Call it perspective. Call it heart.

Whatever it is, Humans of St. Louis has it.

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Potato Salad Fundraising Success Inspires Lawyer to Start Kickstarter to Help Homeless

Categories: Community

Eric Fogleman
Thomas Harvey has an idea for Kickstarter that's not potato salad.
If one guy in Ohio can raise $70,000 in a week for potato salad, then surely a St. Louis non-profit can raise $15,000 in a month to help the homeless, right?

That's what Thomas Harvey, founder of Arch City Defenders, is hoping.

After Harvey saw the Kickstarter campaign for potato salad that went uber-viral this week, he bought a tub of Schnucks potato salad and launched a Kickstarter of his own.

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St. Louis Room Escape Volume 3 Set for August: Can "Harmony" Defeat Devious Puzzles?

Categories: Community

Tom Carlson
Some of the puzzle boxes from Enigima Productions' Trapped, Volume 2.
Nir Chezrony is still waiting for a team to actually win Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape.

The baffling mental gauntlet is returning for its third run on August 20, and Chezrony, the show's creator and puzzle designer, is banking on new puzzles and a new theme to attract just the right collection of brainiacs. Their challenge: Escape a locked room before the 60-minute timer hits all zeros.

In April, Trapped: Volume 2 churned through 26 teams before one group -- the very last full team to attempt the devious game -- managed to solve the final puzzle accidentally. Similarly, November's Trapped: Volume 1 featured a "winning" team that attained victory on a technicality after a magnetized key got stuck inside the final puzzle.

"I tried to remove any randomness from this next room. They're not going to be able to solve it without going through every single puzzle and solving it correctly," says Chezrony, who works as a biomedical engineer at Philips when he's not devising brain-stumping obstacle courses. "Beyond that, I think I made the puzzles a bit easier."

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STL250: St. Louis' Year-Long Birthday Party Slows Down After Halfway Mark

Categories: Community

Steve Truesdell
St. Louis celebrated its 250th birthday withThe Burnin' Love Festival Tuesday, February 18, on Art Hill in Forest Park.
St. Louis' year-long birthday celebration is halfway over, and the stl250 campaign is starting to wind down.

Stl250's executive director Erin Budde has stepped down from her paid position to accept a new job at the United Way, leaving the group without any paid staff. Budde says stl250's biggest projects -- such as the birthday party on Art Hill in February -- are completed.

"If there were a full-time staff person, just given what needs to be done, they'd probably be underutilized," Budde tells Daily RFT. "We're pretty much done with our heavy lifting. It's a good time for a transition."

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