Big Muddy film fest

Action, explosions and hot girls bombard many of the films being shown in Hollywood.

Most movies produced for mainstream audiences are focused less on real societal problems and more on giving viewers enough eye candy to keep them in their seat. However, there are alternatives for students looking for more informative and unique films that challenge viewers.

The Big Muddy Film Festival is an event that has prided itself in showing innovative flicks that break tradition. This is the 35th anniversary of the show, which, started Wednesday in the Student Center Auditorium. In the past, the event has lasted 10 or more days. This time the event will be compacted to five. Silvia Dadian, the director of the event, said some changes have been made that audiences should expect at the festival.

One of the variations in this year’s show is that the independent films are even more focused on community issues, Dadian said.

“We have a couple of non-competition screenings that I think are really going to be exciting, including a couple that are actually kind of regionally focused,” she said.

“Future Weather” is directed by Jenny Deller and is about a 13-year-old girl who tries adapting to some life changes with her grandmother. This comes after her single mom abandons her.

The movie premiered Wednesday, but it isn’t one of the movies being nominated for an award at the festival, Dadian said.

“It (‘Future Weather’) has done really well on festival circuit … it’s a fantastic film and it has a couple big name stars in it,” she said. “I think that will be really exciting for the community in that we actually have a big name film that actually takes place here.”

“Around Crab Orchard,” is another flick focused on societal issues that is set in southern Illinois. It will be screened for the festival at 5:00 p.m. Friday in the Student Center Auditorium.

Sarah Kanouse, the director of the documentary, won The John Michael Award, an honor given to movies in the festival with an intellectual and serious meaning in social, political, or ecological concerns, for it.

Kanouse said her film spotlights the Crab Orchard wildlife reserve. Being a frequent visitor from Crab Orchard, Kanouse said she did some research into Crab Orchard and wants audiences to respond to the ecological problems raised in the film.

Dadian said “Around Crab Orchard,” “Ninah’s Dowry” and “Bubba Moon Face,” are films competing for awards this year that should really stand out to audiences.

There are more films focused on societal conflicts, but there is another change to be expected by audiences as well. This year, the festival is showing movies made by grade school students.

Michelle Leigh, an associate professor of cinema and photography, said those running the festival are excited to feature films made by prospective students. Some of them are done by teenagers from the Maysles institute, Leigh said. The organization is a nonprofit body in New York City that offers after-school and summer programs for young adults ages 13 to 18. The other institute presented is SIUC’s Girls Make Movies Camp, she said.

“We have The Girls Make Movies Camp to sort of encourage young woman to get into film making, but also to consider SIU as a great location for doing that,” she said. “The Maysles program in New York has similar functions in sort of teaching inner city kids how to make films in a way of expressing themselves.”

Leigh said this year’s festival presents great opportunities for secondary education students to get some experience working in mass media.

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