November 29, 2006

Big Muddy Film Festival jury selected

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The judges for the 29th annual Big Muddy Film Festival include a top film critic, a trail-blazing French filmmaker and a St. Louis-based experimental filmmaker.

Sally Shafto, coordinator of the popular, long-running festival, said this year's jury will bring diverse viewpoints and a wealth of experience to bear on the dozens of films competing for recognition and possible cash prizes. The festival, hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is set for Feb. 22-March 4 at various venues on campus, in Carbondale and around Southern Illinois.

The festival will emphasize an international flavor this year, said Shafto, who already is fielding entries from around the world. It will feature both juried and non-juried films screened for the enjoyment of cinema fans throughout the region.

The jury, which will evaluate the films in competition, is a key aspect of the festival, Shafto said.

"We're very excited about our jurors, who represent many different aspects of film and filmmaking," said Shafto, whom the University hired this year as the Big Muddy's first full-time coordinator. "We expect to receive more than 300 entries, and we'll probably select between 50 and 75 to screen for the competition. Our jurors will review those and select the winners."

This year's jury includes:

Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic, educator and author.

Rosenbaum writes for the Chicago Reader newspaper and contributes to film publications including, "Trafic," "Film Comment" and "Premiere." He is the author of "Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See" and "Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism," among others.

Rosenbaum is a leading worldwide authority on cinema, Shafto said.

"I don't think we've ever had a film critic on the jury and Jonathan is literally one of the world's preeminent critics," Shafto said. "He is respected by critics and filmmakers alike and is omnivorous when it comes to movies. He has an academic background, but knows how to bring his writings to a wider audience."

• Babette Mangolte, experimental filmmaker and photographer.

A native of France, Mangolte was one of the first women accepted at the prestigious Lumiere School of Filmmaking. During the 1960s, she helped open the film industry to women by becoming one of the first female directors of photography on a film, a position previously off limits to women. She went on to a successful career behind the camera, with several of her films and photographs placed in top museum collections and catalogs.

Mangolte, who now lives in New York City, is known for her photography of dance, theater and performance. She is a professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California San Diego and venues around the world have showcased her work.

Shafto plans to show one of the film's Mangolte worked on, a feminist classic called "The Gold Diggers," during the festival.

"Babette is closely associated with feminism and she has a strong background in collaborating with the avant-garde movement in New York," Shafto said. "She's poised between a number of different areas in the arts. She's been on the vanguard of getting women into different roles on film crews and she'll be a wonderful juror."

• Amy Granat, experimental filmmaker.

Granat has achieved a great deal of success at an early stage of her career, Shafto said. She exhibits individual frames of her experimental films in galleries here and around the world, including Switzerland, Austria and China. A native of St. Louis and a graduate of Bard College in New York where she studied with Adolphus Mekas, Granat will spend extra time with student filmmakers at SIUC, both one-on-one and in the classroom setting.

"I wanted to bring her in a little early to work with our students and I think that is going to work out," Shafto said. "Amy has achieved so much already and she has a lot to share. She will bring a unique perspective to our jury."

Jurors will judge entries submitted in the categories of experimental, animation, narrative and documentary films. They also will select a best-of-the-festival award winner and will decide how to divide the $3,000 in cash prizes available to the winners.

"They can give each winner some or they can give it all to one or anything else they decide," Shafto said. "It's all up to them to do as they see fit."

Merchandise promoting the upcoming festival will be on sale at the Holiday Craft Sale, Thursday, Nov. 30-Saturday, Dec. 2, at the SIUC Student Center.

Coordinating and expanding major cultural outreach programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.