Daily Egyptian

Big Muddy film festival continues to flow

By Jake Saunder

When the 36th annual Big Muddy Film Festival begins competition screenings Wednesday, artists from around the world will let their light shine in the darkened screening rooms.

The festival consists of films from artists who produce new and contemporary works. The themes represent issues important in both the southern Illinois community and worldwide, according to the festival’s website. Film Alternatives faculty adviser and festival director Elisa Herrmann said she oversees every task at the festival from securing the venues to acquiring the judges.

“Running the Big Muddy Film Festival is a great responsibility, but also a very exciting and fun process,” she said.

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Multiple venues will house the various screenings, including the Student Center, Morris Library and the Communications building; one off-campus screening of “Animal House” will occur at 7 p.m. Thursday at Pagliai’s Pizza. Festival co-organizer Mickey Everett, who is responsible for promoting the participating films, said he helped select which films would be presented from a group of nearly 200 entries.

“It has been an eye opener to see the actual mechanics of a film festival at work,” he said. “I am so used to attending these types of events on my own without considering how they are put together. Working on the Big Muddy introduced me to the logistical side of things, and has shown me how to run and plan for an event on a much larger scale than I was previously accustomed to.”

Films to be presented range from shorts to feature length productions; some films are live-action, others are animated and the themes vary. Once the films have been screened, judges Eliza Hittman, Julie Perini and Michael Robinson will weigh in.

Hittman said her job as juror begins Wednesday, when she and the judges will discuss which films stuck with them the most. Once the judges view the films and evaluate their opinions, they will declare the winners during an awards ceremony Sunday. Each category has a winner, with places for runners up and honorable mentions.

“I have screened my own films at the festival in the past and have always really admired the programming and think they choose unique work,” Hittman said. “I am very excited to see what’s in the program this year.”

The diverse collection of films ranges in themes from dramatically heavy and political to documentarian, while others have religious and philosophical meanings. Some films may be a distant social commentary while others serve as a close-up to rural and familial settings.

“This is just the beginning,” Everett said. “The Big Muddy Film Festival is the longest running student film festival, and we plan to keep it that way.”

Jake Saunders can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @saundersfj or at 536-3311 ext. 254.

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