The Digital Muddy is Here

The Digital Muddy Media Festival is now live at The Digital Muddy is a curated exhibit featuring the latest in interesting and unique digital art, curated by Michele Thursz.

At the end of the month, we’ll also have Expanded Media, a symposium featuring workshops and discussions on the transition between print and digital, and what publishing means in the 21st century. Workshop signup begins at 9:30am on April 29th, and the symposium lasts until

Join us for both, and check out the latest in digital art and scholarship.


Announcing the 2016 Little Muddy Film and Media Festival


With another successful Big Muddy Film Festival in hindsight, it’s now that time of year again where we celebrate the work of the students of our own university. The Little Muddy Film and Media Festival is an annual event put on by us, the Big Muddy Crew, to showcase the work of SIUC’s undergraduate and graduate student-artists. This year’s event will take place on Friday April 29 at 7 P.M. in the Guyon Auditorium of SIU’s Morris Library. We encourage one and all to come out and enjoy a screening of submitted films, a showcase of submitted photography and digital art, and a reception after the program with food provided by Quatros Pizza. The event is entirely free and open to all.

If you are a current SIUC undergraduate or graduate student and you have short films of 10 minutes or less, photography, or digital art ready for presentation, the Little Muddy is a great opportunity to showcase your work to others in your field and the public. Submission is free, all submissions are generally shown, and your work will be judged by our SIU faculty jurors for the potential to win prizes. Awards will be given to the top 3 best films, best photograph, and best digital art piece, as decided by the jurors.

Submission Guidelines

You must be a current SIUC undergraduate or graduate student to submit.

Films must be 10 minutes or less, and can be any category (narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, etc.). Films made through Movie Camera Militia (MCM) are not eligible. Please submit via Film Freeway at

Send photographs and digital art to with “LMFF Photograph/Digital Art Submission” in the subject line.

Deadline: Friday April 15

FIRST TIME EVENT! – The Big Muddy comes to Chicago


The Chicago event is produced by organizers of this year’s Big Muddy Film Festival with faculty and
students from the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts and it’s Department of Cinema and
Photography at SIU Carbondale. No commercials or previews. Movies start promptly at posted times.
Proceeds from ticket sales and additional donations benefit The Big Muddy Film Festival.
This event has limited capacity. Purchase your tickets today to ensure your participation at this event.
Programming Schedule:
10AM – UNEXPECTED (2015)
2PM – MAGGIE (2015)
For more information and movie times visit these links:

And the winners are…

The winners for the 38th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival are…


Best Documentary Feature: Dark Horse Candidate, Liss Platt


Project website:


Best Documentary Short: Disambiguation, Phoebe Tooke


Director’s Website:


Best Animated Short: Hansel + Gretel, Soyeon Kim


Director’s Website:

Hansel + Gretel Trailer


Best Experimental Short: Swallowed Whole, Heidi Kumao


Director’s Website:

Swallowed Whole Clip


Best Narrative Short: Technical Difficulties of Intimacy, Joel Moffett

Joel  Moffett - Trailer Short Export.Still003

Director’s Website:


Special Juror’s Award: …still, Alvalia Pemberton


Director’s Website:


John Michaels Memorial Film Award:  (tied for first place)

The First Secret City, Alison Carrick & C.D. Stelzer      

Alison Carrick - First Secret City-final-3.Still001

Project Website:

The First Secret City Trailer


Then Then Then, Daniel Schioler

Daniel Schioler - ThenThenThen_Promo_Pic_2_720p

Then Then Then Trailer


The 38th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival has been made possible with the help of the SIU Department of Cinema & Photography, the College of Mass Communications & Media Arts, SIU Carbondale Student Fine Arts Activity Fee, the SIU Undergraduate Student Council, and The Big Muddy Crew.



Thank you to our jurors:

Rosalind Sibielski, Kris Swanberg, and Heather Elliott-Famularo


& the John Michaels Award Committee:

Sarah Lewison, Chair

Juana Duran

Tod Kington

Paul Matalonis

Steve Sawyer

Marilyn J Smerken


Congratulations to all of the 38th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival winners! 

What’s Happening Saturday at the Big Muddy, Part 1

This morning at the Fest have the Family Block at the Student Center auditorium at 10am, bringing you films fir the whole family. This block will feature short animated work, many of which were made by children and families. As well as a selection of experimental films, many of which have shown this week at the University Museum.

At 10am in the African American Museum at the university mall, we have a series of documentaries for the community to enjoy. Live Like Kings, by Benjamin Kaplan, looks at issues of race, class, culture and personal expression through the unexpected collision of chess and hip-hop. Freak the Language, from Sam Hampton and Lee Quinby, explores the passionately creative and carefully crafted impulses of New York poet David Mills. Through selected poetry readings, the film spotlights Mills’ unique associations of words, syntax, rhythm and rhyme. On-camera interviews convey how living and Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years developed a special bond with Hughes, while traveling around the world and live in his sense of history, body and spirit. Craig Weflen’s Bonton + Ideal explorers the Bonton and Ideal neighborhoods in South Dallas. Initially a series of segregated developments built for black Dallasites, the neighborhoods have a rich legacy of soulful music, black-owned businesses and close social ties. As with other segregated neighborhoods in the American Southwest, Bonton and Ideal have struggled with the effects of political decisions and to isolate the neighborhood physically, socially and economically. The love and dedication of long time residents have spurred city-led  revitalization, though not always with the neighborhood’s interests in mind.

At noon, we have two showings for our wonderful audiences. At the Student Center auditorium, Tony Vainku’s In Football We Trust intimately portrays for young Polynesian football players struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and near poverty as they enter the high-stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of professional sports.

At Guyon Auditorium, we have the World Premiere of Remington Smith’s Rubbertown. “Rubbertown” is a chemical manufacturing neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, that features synthetic rubber plants, a toxic landfill site and a coal burning power plant. It’s also next to residential housing. With residents suffering higher cancer rates and regular leaks or spills, resident and advocate Monika Burkhead aims to move her entire home to another county to escape rubber town. Parts Studs Terkel oral history, part travelogue From Hell, Rubbertown reveals that hiding behind lush Louisville summers are high cancer rates and insidious environmental hazards.

At the Student Center auditorium, at 2pm we will be showing Sellus Wilder’s The End of the Line. When two major chemical companirs teamed up to ship hazardous liquids from the north east to the Gulf Coast, they didn’t count on the resistance they would encounter in Kentucky. The film follows a grassroots coalition of farmers, activist, constitutional conservatives and a religious order as they join together against the fracking industry to defeat the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline.

At 4 p.m. in the Student Center auditorium we have the John Michaels Awards showcase, Featuring The First Secret City, by Allison Carrick and C. D. Stelzer. Before the creation of the secret cities of Los Alamos, New Mexico, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, the Manhattan Project hired the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis to refine the first uranium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. For the next two decades, Mallinckrodt continued its classified work for the Atomic Energy Commission during the Cold War. The resulting radioactive waste contaminated numerous locations in the St Louis area, some of which have not been cleaned up 70 years after the end of World War 2. Told through the eyes of an over expose worker, the story expands through a series of interviews that korean down a toxic pathway, leading to a fiery terminus at a smoldering, radioactively contaminated landfill.

At Guyon Auditorium, we have films about love and loss. In Memory, by Alastair Clayton follows an elderly couple who, after a long life together, are struggling to cope daily with advancing dementia. Birthday, by Chris King, tells the story of a young military wife who gets the news that her marine husband has been severely wounded in combat, and discovers that lies ahead for them is going to be difficult, and it amazing. Timothy Marc Hopper’s Grief Sleeps centralizes around a gold star family dealing with the aftermath of losing a loved one who was killed in action. The main focus is on a mother who struggles to maintain her grasp on reality while trying to support her family emotionally.

ATTENTION: Schedule Change for Saturday

There has been a small change to the Saturday schedule.

Due to a scheduling conflict, the screening at 4pm in Guyon Auditorium will be starting at 5 pm instead, and concluding at the same time it was originally scheduled for (6pm).

To account for this shortened block time, the film H.O.M.E, originally scheduled for this block, will be moved to our Best of the Fest celebration at Longbranch Café and Bakery on Sunday afternoon.

Thank you for attending the Fest, and we can’t wait to see you all at both great events!

What’s Happening Friday at the Big Muddy?

Today at the Fest, you can look forward to a selection of documentary and narrative film on a wide array of topics.

At the Student Center Auditorium, at 4pm, we have Beryl Magoko’s The Cut. The Kuria in Kenya and Tanzania are still practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a ritual. It is painful and even dangerous. The older generation and peer pressure want to uphold the legacy of the ancestors… but the effect of generational practice has created a mixed feeling in the young generation in the 21st century. So what can human right activists do? Join us for a powerful documentary this afternoon.

At 6pm, we have two screenings for the community to choose from. At the Student Center Auditorium, we will be screening two films about the stage: Andrea Baldini’s Ferdinand Knapp, and Creditors by Ben Cura. The titular Ferdinand Knapp is the pre-eminent actor of French theatre, revered by all. In preparing for a new play, the lines between his character’s malevolent personality and his own begin to blur. His double warps his reality into a nightmare and compels him to commit an irredeemable act. In Creditors, a love triangle is unraveled when a young painter is approached by an admirer who eases him into making sense of his relationship with his wife. Based on August Strindberg’s 1888 play, “Creditors” is a modern re-telling of Strindberg’s story of love, betrayal, revenge and psychological manipulation, which he considered to be his one true masterpiece.

At Guyon Auditorium, introspection rules the day, as we follow people looking inside themselves to understand the world around them. The Seventh Fire, directed by Jack Roccobono is a haunting and visually arresting nonfiction film about the gang crisis in Indian Country, presented by Terrence Malick. When Rob Brown, a Native American gang leader on a remote Minnesota reservation, is sentenced to prison for a fifth time, he must confront his role in bringing violent drug culture into his beloved Ojibwe community. As Rob reckons with his past, his seventeen-year-old protege, Kevin, dreams of the future: becoming the most powerful and feared Native gangster on the reservation. Saham Hosseini’s Heart Connected is a beautiful love story of a young couple revealing that love endures all. Some Forgotten Calculation, by C.S. Ward is an exploration into the history of computing and our science fiction past. The block concludes with Elizabeth Williams’ Kuwabara Kuwabara, a short, experimental documentary/narrative by senior film student Elizabeth Williams exploring the existential questions that accompany being an American 20-something year old “kid” in the early 21st-century. Deeply personal, the film centers on the lives of the filmmaker’s dearest friends as they struggle to “grow up” in a culture that has so far allowed them to do so vicariously.

At 8pm, the double-screen offerings continue. In the Student Center Auditorium, we have EKAJ, directed by Cati Gonzalez. EKAJ is a love story between two drifters, a naive teenager and a hustler. The film capture’s a runaway journey to New York City. Ekaj meets Mecca who takes him under his care. Mecca has AIDS and multiple problems of his own. He is high all day but still manages to be the only voice of reason in Ekaj’s hopeless world. They cruise the city together looking for money and places to stay. The core of the movie is Ekaj, who thinks he will become the lover of a rich man and be taken care of for life but ends up finding his dreams quickly shattered. Although he makes some money as a prostitute, he finds he is disposable, replaceable and lacking what it takes to survive in the city. Their relationship develops into true friendship and love as they lean on each other for survival For lighter fare, join us at Guyon Auditorium for Frank Laudner’s Max Peril. In an effort to finish a film before turning thirty, Riley Young documents and re-creates the bizarre but supposedly-true stories of a retired secret agent using local talent, a VHS camcorder, and every lowbudget trick he knows.

And, as you can every day of the festival, come see a looping selection of animation and experimental film at the University Museum whenever you’d like!

What’s Happening Thursday at the Big Muddy?

After braving the storm yesterday to bring you the best in independent cinema, The Big Muddy Film Festival is back with an armload of new reels.

At 4pm, you can join us at the Student Center auditorium for a selection of amazing documentaries. First, on a topic completely unrelated to increasingly severe winter weather, we bring you Andrew Sobey’s We Are Fucked: An Environmental Film.  When you’re making an environmental film, it’s important to end on a hopeful note, it can’t be all doom and gloom. We Are Fucked: An Environmental Film looks at its own genre and offers a new formula for both structure and content in environmental filmmaking. Through the lens of a series of shorts about ocean acidification, the film plainly lays out the stakes, challenging both audience and filmmaker to think and act differently.

A Passion of Gold and Fire, by Sebastien Pins looks at a beekeeper, who shares his worries about the future of his apiary school. A passion of gold and fire which definitely helps our environment to keep on living.

Courtney Coulson’s Welcome to the Circus is a story about Palestine rarely told; One of optimism, hope, and the pursuit of a dream in the occupied territories. Set in the West Bank city of Ramallah, The Palestinian Circus School welcomes the LIDO, a circus school from France, into their home. In
one month, the two schools must come together to create a mobile circus for the children of Palestine.

Continuing the theme of documentary, at 6pm, our second Juror presentation will be held in the Student Center Auditorium, with Heather Elliott-Famularo: Bearing Witness. Heather Elliott-Famularo will be presenting on her most recent research, her award-winning documentary film Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors. This documentary is a piece of a larger collaborative work titled, Bearing Witness: Social Responsibility in the Shadow of the Holocaust.

After the Q & A and presentation, at 8pm, we have Francois Miron’s Paul Sharits. This film is a long overdue documentary film on the work, the influence, the life and the mysterious death of legendary experimental filmmaker Paul Sharits. The film uses never before seen archives of all types and out takes, rare interviews with people in the Avant-Garde scene and experimental cinema historians.

If you can’t get on campus today, don’t despair! The Fest will also be coming out into the community for a 6pm showing at the Varsity Theater in Carbondale. Whatever Comes Next, by Hildegard Keller is a documentary portrays the American painter Annemarie Mahler. She
looks back on her 88 years on two continents and in two centuries and unfolds an intimate conversation with herself and her dog in front of the camera.

Betsy Kalin’s East LA Interchange follows the evolution of working-class, immigrant Boyle Heights and how one neighborhood managed to survive the construction of the largest and busiest freeway interchange in the nation. The film explores the shifting face of community in the United States today and argues why it should matter to us all.

And, of course, as every day during the festival, you can go check out a curated selection of experimental and animated film at the University Museum.


What’s Happening Wednesday at the Big Muddy?

The weather outside is frightful, but the Big Muddy Film Festival is so delightful. Come in out of the cold and enjoy some of the best our festival has to offer while you’re putting off cleaning the snow off of the car!

At 4pm, in the Student Center AuditScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 9.52.52 AMorium, we’re showing Doug Swift’s Up River. Newark, Ohio—a typical post-industrial town in the rust belt—has a poverty rate at 30 percent in downtown and neighboring districts. A great many of these folks are the “working poor,” who sometimes carry two or three jobs. Community activists, frustrated after years of giving charity to help citizens out of their worst crises, create a “Think Tank on Poverty.” Those who suffer the most will become the “experts.” They find a safe place to tell their stories, and then learn how to become activists on their own behalf. They get featured in the local newspaper, and their children develop a sense of hope and pride. They go to the state capital to march, meet with their representatives, give voice to the voiceless, and receive more training on how to be effective activists. By the end of their first year, they have educated their city council, and Newark becomes the twelfth state in Ohio to pass Fair Hiring Legislation. Up River is the inspiring story of what one group was able to do in the name of justice for all.

After the screening, come to the International Lounge right outside the auditorium for the Big Muddy Film Festival’s opening reception at 6pm. Discuss the film, find out what else is playing, meet the jurors and get ready to enjoy the rest of the festival.

k_swanbergThen, back to the theater at 8pm for this year’s first juror presentation! Join director and SIU alum Kris Swanberg for her latest film, Unexpected. Unexpected is the story of an inner-city high school teacher who discovers she is pregnant at the same time as one of her most promising students and the two develop an unlikely friendship while struggling to navigate their unexpected pregnancies.

The film will be followed by a Q & A with Kris. Kris Swanberg is began her film career at Southern Illinois University where she studied documentary film production. Using naturalistic techniques and often working with non-actors, Swanberg went on to focus her career in narrative film. Her first feature, It was great, but I was ready to come home played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009, followed by her next feature, Empire Builder (2012) and short film Baby Mary (2014). Unexpected, starring Cobie Smulders and Anders Holm, premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and is Swanberg’s third feature.

Hsin-Wei Chen - PanZhog_PosterThen, cap off the night with a double feature at 8pm. ‘Pan Zhog’ means out door banquet in Hakka, it is the period mark for every death, wedding or celebration in town. Pan Zhog, by Hsin-Wei Chin is a sentimental short film about saying goodbye. Mori-so and Gim were neighbors, friends and partners of banquet catering for decades. One day Mori-so got a midnight phone call sending the message of her best friend’s death. The end of life suddenly approached so near. Daily life seemed revolving as usual afterwards yet Mori-so was well aware of the missing one. Mori-so decides to cater a supper for Gim and her families to say goodbye in the way Mori-so and Gim were both familiar with.

Continuing the theme of friendship and loss, Brigitta Wagner’s Rosehill looks at an actress from New York who, after receiving some bad news, escapes to the American Midwest to visit her old friend, a frustrated sex researcher. The women embark on a local road trip through a place that has seen better days.

And, of course, as every day during the festival, you can go check out a curated selection of experimental and animated film at the University Museum.


%d bloggers like this: