Big themes discussed at Big Muddy

The Big Muddy Film Festival brought civility to the forefront Tuesday, raising issues on campus that may have flared last semester with the 1,000 student disturbance outside of the Brush Towers.

The September incident raised the question of civility on campus, said Megan Lotts, associate professor of library affairs.

“I got to see the footage the next day with my students, 20-something students, who almost have the effect of (post-traumatic stress disorder) from this experience,” she said.

A panel of experts holds a discussion Tuesday on Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing,” at Morris Library for the Big Muddy Film Festival. The discussion following the screening localized issues of civility, a key theme throughout the film. The festival provides the southern Illinois community with an opportunity to provide feedback on films produced by students. Nathan Hoefert | Daily Egyptian

Michele Torre, festival organizer and assistant professor of cinema and photography, said talking about the issue of civility in the community was a way to connect the idea of the Big Muddy Film Festival back to the university.

The festival began Tuesday with a showing of the 1989 Spike Lee film, “Do the Right Thing” — a film about a neighborhood’s racial tensions — in the John C. Guyon Auditorium of Morris Library.

After the screening, a panel of guest speakers gave their insight into the film and how it relates to today’s problems in society.

The screening was a preview event of the festival, which has been going for 34 years. The annual festival aims to bring contemporary, innovative and provocative films to Carbondale and includes dozens of screenings at various venues in Carbondale and the surrounding area, according to its website.

The festival is until Sunday and will be capped off with a screening of the “Best of the Fest” in the Liberty Theater in Murphysboro at 7 p.m.

Lotts said “Do the Right Thing” was the perfect movie to display social problems in communities because of how directly it deals with those problems, she said.

“We talked about where was every role and where was the civility in that moment, and I think that we see that in the film,” she said.

Lotts also said there seems to be some civility problems on campus between Brush Towers and Thompson Point.

She said there’s a perception on campus that the towers are the “rugged” part of the university, attracting a lot of black people, while Thompson Point tends to attract more white people.

In the discussion after the screening, panelist Josh Hyde said he noticed the same division between the two housing complexes while he was attending SIUC.

Torre said the festival has a tradition of community outreach and wants to emphasize opening up dialogue after all its films. She said she wanted to see more discussions about civility in this year’s festival.

The discussion that followed the film was the reason screening “Do the Right Thing” was a good event, Torre said.

Guest speaker Beverly Love, assistant professor of radio and television, said the message depicted in the film’s title needs to be heard.

She said it’s easy to become numb to some of the problems faced in society because the amount of stimuli being presented through the media.

Hyde, who directed the film “Postales,” which debuted at the festival Wednesday, said Spike Lee’s movies have had an impact on him because of the themes that they follow such as social injustice.

“Postales” carries similar themes to “Do the Right Thing,” Hyde said, including cultural understanding.

Lotts said artistic, thought-provoking films need to be seen more often.

“When artists create work, is it really about something that is beautiful to look at or is it really about something that is powerful or sparking some ignition in your brain to get you thinking?” she said.


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