January 25, 2019

Judges bring different perspectives to Big Muddy Film Festival

by Pete Rosenbery

BMFF logo CARBONDALE, Ill. — Filmmakers and artists whose works touch on many genres will serve as jurors at next month’s Big Muddy Film Festival.

Kamau Bilal, Cathy Lee Crane and Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga are the judges for this year’s festival, which runs Feb. 18-24 at the Varsity Center for the Arts and various other locations in Carbondale. Now in its 41st year, the event is one of the oldest film festivals affiliated with a university in the nation and will feature 98 films in four categories: animation, documentary, experimental and narrative. Each of the jurors will also present their work during the festival. 

“We are exceptionally fortunate to be able to welcome such amazing filmmakers and artists to Carbondale as we have found with Crane, Bilal and Zúñiga,” said Sarah Lewison, an associate professor in the Radio, Television, and Digital Media degree program, who is faculty adviser and executive director. “Beyond the many accolades they are receiving nationally and internationally for their divergent work, each of them has a profoundly humanitarian vision that is expressed through the stories they tell.”

Bilal’s work is garnering recognition

Bilal, an assistant teaching professor of film studies at the University of Missouri and St Louis native, was named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2018 by Filmmaker Magazine.

His poignant short film “Baby Brother” had its world premiere at Sundance in 2018 and was one of seven short films to participate in the Sundance Short Film Theatrical Tour, where it was shown in four countries and more than 70 cities. He also has award winning directing and editing credits.

Crane has been making narrative and documentary films for 25 years

Crane is an associate professor in media arts, sciences and studies at Ithaca College, Her 2017 feature film, “The Manhattan Front” looks at how New York City was involved in World War I during a period of U.S. neutrality. 

Her dreamlike and incisive films have been shown worldwide and she also has music videos and installations to her credit. Her short films have been featured in an “American Originals Now” series at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and she is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film-Video recipient.

Zuñiga seeks to show how “inequality and power manifest themselves” in our life

Zuñiga is an associate professor in the film and media studies department at CUNY Hunter College. Zuñiga’s animation, VR, and interactive works aim to “establish dialogue in public spaces.”

His work has been shown in galleries, festivals and museums throughout the world, including New York, Spain, Chili, Mexico, Russia and Brazil. His numerous awards include the 2013 HIAP Artist in Residence in Helsinki, Finland.

John Michaels Award competition films

There are 14 entries in this year’s John Michaels Film Award competition. The category honors the late John Michaels, a cinema student in the 1980s who earned his master of fine arts degree at SIU Carbondale and who was involved in community organizing and activism before he died of brain cancer. 

The category honors all genres of films that “create inspiring stories about the struggles for social justice, local and throughout the world.” 

Films at various venues

Schedule details are available on the Big Muddy Film Festival website. The venues include:

  • Varsity Center for the Arts, 418 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale.
  • SIU Carbondale Morris Library John C. Guyon Auditorium.
  • Carbondale Community Arts, 304 W. Walnut St., Carbondale.
  • Cristaudo’s, 209 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale.
  • Flyover Infoshop, 214 N. Washington St., Carbondale.
  • Global Gourmet, 102 E. Jackson St., Carbondale.
  • Hangar 9, 511 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale.
  • WDBX Radio, 224 N. Washington, St., Carbondale. 

Special events

The opening reception is at 7 p.m., Feb. 18 at the Varsity Center for the Arts. A closing reception celebrating the festival, which will include showing kids’ films and the “Best of the Fest” is at 6 p.m., Feb. 24, also at the Varsity Center for the Arts.