February 14, 2007
Big Muddy Film Festival opens Feb. 22
CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Big Muddy Film Festival, a mainstay of Southern Illinois University Carbondale for almost three decades, will feature a distinctly international flavor as it begins an 11-day run on Thursday, Feb. 22.
The festival, which will take place at screening locations throughout the area, includes juried films in four categories – animation, documentary, experimental and narrative – as well as a host of powerful and entertaining non-competition films.
This year's festival includes a variety of films focusing on the war in Iraq and immigration, two pressing social issues that are ripe for discussion, said Sally Shafto, the film festival's first full-time executive director.
Among the non-competition films is "The War Tapes," which was produced by SIUC alumnus Steve James ("Hoop Dreams, "Stevie"). James will attend the festival and introduce the film, which features the footage and views of U.S. soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.
The competition is the heart of the festival, and a prescreening committee has selected 60 films from about 250 entries for this year's showcases. Organizers grouped these films by topic into 20 programs.
The judges for the competition include a top film critic, a trail-blazing French filmmaker and an experimental filmmaker originally from St. Louis.
• Jonathan Rosenbaum is a film critic, educator and author who 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.
* Babette Mangolte is an 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.
• Amy Granat is an experimental filmmaker from St. Louis. She exhibits individual frames of her experimental films in galleries here and around the world, including Switzerland, Austria and China. She is a graduate of Bard College in New York where she studied with Adolphus Mekas.
Shafto said the festival boasts a strong lineup of competition films, including:
• "Sun and death: Chernobyl and After…"
A French documentary that examines the tragic effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union. Journalist Bernard Debord made the film, which looks at the impact on people, animals and plant life in the area around the nuclear reactor and implicates international atomic officials for covering up those results.
• "My Person in the Water"
A short, experimental film by Leighton Pierce, a long-time presenter at the Big Muddy Film Festival.
•"The Cats of Mirikitani"
An American documentary that examines the relationship between a homeless Japanese man living on the streets of Soho who is taken in by Manhattan filmmaker, Linda Hattendorf, on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After delving into the man's background, Hattendorf discovers that the man, Jimmy Mirikitani, grew up in Hiroshima and moved to the United States to become an artist a few years prior to World War II. The government placed him, along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans, in an internment camp, where he eventually lost touch with his family. They set out on journey to reunite them.
• "The Visitors"
A short narrative film from Germany that tells the story of a woman who rents a couple a place to stay in order to earn the money she needs to join her photojournalist boyfriend in another country.
• "Motel DePalma"
A short narrative film from Israel that tells the amusing story of a man in a hotel suffering from writer's block.
•"Fall" and "The Passenger"
Two experimental films from Boston filmmaker Kathryn Ramey, whose hand-made, experimental cinema also manages to be narrative in nature.
The non-competition films feature a cavalcade of modern and classic films, including a "midnight movies" series that will get the popcorn popping. Among the non-competition films are:
• "The World"
A visual extravaganza set in a theme park from the young award-winning Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang ke, which explores the impact of globalization on a traditional Chinese community and its disaffected youth.
• "The Battle of Algiers"
A classic 1966 narrative that is shot in documentary style that examines the Algerian revolution from the perspective of that country and the French, both of whom used barbaric methods in pursuit of their goals.
*"The Secret of Roan Inish"
A 1994 narrative that follows a young girl sent to live with her grandparents in a seaside village in Ireland. She learns of a local legend involving an ancestor and seals and possibly a lost baby brother.
* "L' Enfant (The Child)"
A 2005 narrative that follows Bruno and Sonia, a young carefree couple who have a child. Bruno, a small-time thief with no job, ends up selling the baby and the movie examines the subsequent results.
* "The Models of 'Pickpocket'" and 'Water Motor'"
Two documentaries by Mangolte, who also is serving as a juror for the festival. "Models" centers on interview with the subjects of the influential 1959 French film "Pickpocket," which featured untrained, non-actors in the lead roles. Mangolte tracked several down and interviewed them about their experiences for her 2003 film.
"Water Motor" is a seven-minute, black and white film featuring the post-modern dance of Trisha Brown.
* "A+A for Johnny (Revisited)"
This experimental film incorporates live projection accompanied by violin performance by Granat, one of the festival jurors.
* Midnight Movies: "Lost Highway," "Annie Hall," "Baadasssss" and "Dr. Strangelove"
A series of late-night affairs that explore the surreal, relationships, racial exploitation and nuclear annihilation.
Moviegoers can purchase a full festival pass for $30. Tickets for shows at the Kerasotes University Place 8 (1370 E. Main St., Carbondale) and the Liberty Theater (1333 S. Walnut St., Murphysboro) are $5. Juror presentations at the SIUC Student Center are free. Screenings at the Yellow Moon Café (110 N. Front St., Cobden), the Longbranch Coffeehouse (100 E. Jackson St., Carbondale), Cobden Illinois Migrant Council, (111 S. Appleknocker Drive, Cobden) the Interfaith Center (913 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale) and the soundstage (room 1106 in the Communications Building at SIUC) are free. All other screenings are $3.
For more information, call 618/453-8301 or visit http://www.bigmuddyfilm.com/29th-2007/index.html
A listing of showings follows:
Thursday, Feb. 22
Noon, Kerasotes University Place 8, "The World"
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "The Battle of Algiers"
8 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Portraits and Identities
Friday, Feb. 23
9 a.m., Communications Building soundstage, John Michaels Award
6 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: American Stories
8 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Animation
Midnight, Kerasotes University Place 8, Midnight Movies: "Lost Highway"
Saturday, Feb. 24
2 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: Global Economics
2 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: American Stories
5 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase, War and its Aftermath
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Do the Right Thing"
Midnight, Kerasotes University Place 8, Midnight Movies: "Annie Hall"
Sunday, Feb. 25
10 a.m., Kerasotes University Place 8, "The Secret of Roan Inish"
Noon, Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Women's Stories
2 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: Race to Execution
3 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Cuba Today
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "The Eel"
8 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Shorts
Monday, Feb. 26
Noon, Kerasotes University Place 8, "L' Enfant (The Child"
5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Showcase, Animation
6 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Shorts
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Chronicle of Anna-Magdalena Bach"
7 p.m., Yellow Moon Café, Showcase: Shorts
8 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Remembering Hiroshima
8 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Experimental
9 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "A Little Humor"
Tuesday, Feb. 27
Noon, Kerasotes University Place 8, "3-Iron"
5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Canyon Cinema"
6 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Shorts
6:30 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Nashville"
8 p.m., Longbranch Coffeehouse, Showcase: Experimental
9:15 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: The Death Penalty
Wednesday, Feb. 28
Noon, Kerasotes University Place 8, "After Innocence"
5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Narrative Feature: "Dimension"
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Juror Amy Granat
8 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Shorts
9 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Narrative Feature: "Ephemeres"
Thursday, March 1
Noon, Kerasotes University Place 8, "The Gold Diggers"
5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Pickpocket"
6 p.m., Illinois Migrant Council, Showcase: Cuba Today
7 p.m. Student Center Auditorium, Juror Babette Mangolte
9:30 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: Women's Stories
Friday, March 2
5 p.m., Illinois Migrant Council, TBA
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Juror Jonathan Rosenbaum
8 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: The Food We Eat
9:30 p.m. Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: Experimental
Midnight, Kerasotes University Place 8, "Dr. Strangelove"
Saturday, March 3
Noon, Student Center Auditorium, Showcase: Remembering Hiroshima
2 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Shorts
4 p.m., Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: Experimental
5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "Where Does Your Buried Smile Lie?"
7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, "The War Tapes", with introduction by SIUC alumnus Steve James.
9:30 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, Feature Documentary: "Sun and Death in Chernobyl"
Midnight, Kerasotes University Place 8, Midnight Movie: "Baadasssss"
Sunday, March 4
10 a.m., Kerasotes University Place 8, "Waiting for Happiness"
Noon, Wham Building, room 105, Showcase: War and its Aftermath
2 p.m., Interfaith Center, John Michaels Award Winners
5 p.m., Liberty Theater, Best of the Fest