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March 17, 2021

Big Muddy Film Festival kicks off 43rd year on Wednesday

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — This year’s venues might be a bit different, but visitors to the annual Big Muddy Film Festival will still be able to experience the raw emotions that come with watching some of the best among independent films today.

As filmgoers trade the usual intimate settings on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus and in the community to view the 82 selections for the comfort of their own homes, this year’s virtual two-week festival, from March 17 through March 31, includes three feature narratives having their U.S. premieres.

These films are “The End Will be Spectacular,” a war film produced by members of the Kurdish resistance in Rojava, Syria; “Pureza,” a personal drama  based on true accounts of enslaved labor in Amazonian Brazil, and a Canadian first feature, “Bone Cage,” which follows a man who logs to make a living, but anguishes about the animal habitats he destroys. Sarah Lewison, festival faculty adviser, notes these films can only be seen in a festival context until they find distributors. 

The festival is one of the nation’s oldest film festivals affiliated with a university and is known for strong documentaries that highlight social issues. The opening event at 7 p.m. Wednesday. A gala awards ceremony at 7 p.m. March 28 that includes festival jurors will be livestreamed. All of the programs will be available at Big Muddy Film Fest Online and linked through the festival’s web page.

The jurors’ talks will also be available via livestream. This year’s jurors, with the time of their talks are:

  • Kelsey Goldberg, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 18.
  • Jennida Chase, noon Friday, March 19.
  • Jason Livingston, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 20.

The festival features competitive films in five categories: animation, documentary, experimental, narrative and a new category, films shot with smartphones.

Lewison said this year’s online format has one great advantage in that it allows people to attend the festival from throughout the United States.

Details on the selected films and the festival are available on the Big Muddy Film Festival website, the festival screening site and Facebook and Instagram pages.