Centralia’s Blaquefyre film festival showcases local talent

By Chase Myers | @chasemyers_DE | Daily Egyptian

Events like the famous Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival are prime examples of innovated minds gathering to showcase creativity.

While these events are distant from the Midwest, The Blaquefyre Independent Film Festival in Centralia provides an outlet for local talent to show the community their hard work.

Conceived by alumnus Matthew Packman, Blaquefyre began last year and featured 35 independent films in a town without a large film scene.


“We have some really fantastic art centers, but there was nothing for film,” Packman said. “Film was what I wanted to do and this community is my home.”

The festival focuses on exposing film students and young artists in a place where there may not be much of an industry, he said

Packman said he considers Blaquefyre a multi-purpose festival because it helps more than one party at a time.

“It can serve a lot of good, not just to our local communities and trying to build a stronger and healthier art community, but also to filmmakers,” he said. “What better then to have this introductory film festival in your backyard to send to, to get a feel for how it jives with an audience.”

The festival is held at the Centralia Cultural Society and begins on Friday with a showcase at 7 to 10 p.m. and continues on Saturday with two showcases, one from 4 to 6 p.m. and another from 7 to 10 p.m.

Packman said he attributes some of the festival’s success to one of SIU’s Movie Camera Militia administrators, Braden Barton.

Barton, a senior from Oregon studying cinema and photography, is finishing up an internship in Miami, Fla., with the National Association of Television Programming Executive, where television’s creative minds come to speak and promote the furthering of television.

Barton will be premiering the film “Penance,” which he wrote and directed.

The film is about a psychologically unstable woman who loses grip of reality and eventually leads to a violent life, he said.

“Places like Blaquefyre are great for kick-starting creativity,” Barton said.

On the other end of the genre spectrum, Danny Cox, a senior from Louisville, Ky., studying film, who is also a member of MCM, will be presenting a comedy film about the differences of two people called “Boxers.”

“I’ve always been attracted to comedy in most of what I watch,” Cox said. “I like making people laugh.”

Cox said one of the positive things about the festival is how welcoming it is for Salukis, as it does not charge for submissions.

“This is free and this gets it to an audience,” he said. “Really that’s the important thing–showing your film to an audience.”

Not only can drama and comedy be found at Blaquefyre, but musical films as well, like the one directed and choreographed by Marla Schulz, a senior from Fort Worth, Texas, studying musical theatre, called “The Sound of Shadows,” which plays on the topics of heaven, hell and the seven deadly sins.

All of the films will be judged and awarded on quality of acting, directing, editing, lighting, cinematography, screenwriting and more.

The festival has experienced double the entries and interest since last year, Packman said, and they will continue to expand their reach beyond the Midwest as the years go by.

“Where do I see it in five years?” he said. “Bigger but still pure.”

Tickets for Blaquefyre can be purchased per showcase for $3 or $5 for the entire weekend.