February 13, 2009

Big Muddy Film Festival organizers select jurors

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Three award-winning filmmakers will serve as jurors for the 31st annual Big Muddy Film Festival later this month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Keya Lea Horiuchi, Wendell B. Harris Jr., and Ines Sommer bring a variety of perspectives to judging films that compete for recognition beginning next week. The festival runs Thursday, Feb. 19 through March 1 at various venues on campus, in Carbondale and around Southern Illinois.

The student-run film festival, one of the oldest affiliated with a university, features juried films in four categories: animation, documentary, experimental and narrative.

The festival expects to screen more than 75 films from around the world, said Damon J. Taylor, a senior in cinema and photography from Belleville and one of this year’s festival coordinators. The festival has more than 170 entries, so far.

Harris received the grand jury prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival for his work, “Chameleon Street,” a film he wrote, directed and starred as lead actor. He is currently in post-production on a documentary, “Arbiter Roswell,” a 14-year project which, “chronicles the incestuous and internecine relationship between our minds, our media and the military-industrial complex,” according to his biography. His juror presentation is set for 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 27, in the Student Center Auditorium.

Horiuchi returns to the film festival a year after her film, “Considering Democracy: 8 Things to Ask Your Representative,” captured the John Michaels Film Award. Her newest project is an extension of the film, “Hello Policy Make Project,” an online film festival and discussion salon that is at http://hellopolicymaker.org. The John Michaels Film Award honors films that reflect and increase awareness on social, political and environmental issues. Her juror presentation is set for 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 26, in the Student Center Auditorium.

“She submitted last year and was very well received,” said Danielle Williamson, another festival coordinator, and a sophomore in cinema and photography from Roscoe, formerly of Rockton. “Her stage presence seems like it will be really good for a juror presentation and question-and-answer session.”

Sommer does a great deal of experimental and documentary film and video work in Chicago, Williamson said. Noting the numerous experimental film classes in theory and practice, Taylor said that many people are excited about being able to meet and talk with an experimental filmmaker. Sommer’s juror presentation is set for 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 28, in the Student Center Auditorium.

This year’s venues include several locations on campus, including the Student Center Auditorium, Big Muddy Independent Media Center, Studio A in the Communications Building, Lawson Hall 141, 151 and 161, Wham-Davis Auditorium, Browne Auditorium, and Furr Auditorium. Other venues include Kerasotes University Place 8, Longbranch Café and the Interfaith Center in Carbondale, Yellow Moon Café in Cobden, and the Liberty Theater in Murphysboro.

Additional festival information is available at http://bigmuddyfilm.com/31st-2009/index.html. The Web site features forums and bulletin boards. For more information, e-mail the festival at mailto:info@bigmuddyfilm.com.