ST. LOUIS – It’s a form of art and imagination that’s transformed times of hardship and opportunity here in the area. It’s why the St. Louis International Film Festival is celebrating hip-hop.

“Just listen to the words and listen to people’s stories,” Hady Sow said.

Sow, from New York City, found himself in St. Louis during the 32nd annual St. Louis International Film Festival.

“We unite the world through film,” Chris Clark, the artistic director of Cinema St. Louis, said.

The opening night of the festival falls on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, presenting the perfect opportunity to reflect on its impact.

Sow’s love for the musical genre inspired him to travel more than 900 miles to watch “House Party” on the big screen at the festival.

“There’s been a long tradition that’s always been thriving and will never really go away,” Clark said.

According to Clark, it’s been a focal point that’s been missing in the area.

“The last 10 years or so, we did not have a film credit, but it was just reinstated this year,” he said.