Big Muddy Film Festival Award Winners

Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners!

Finding the Gold Within

Wallas On Velos

Myrna the Monster
Joy Kevin
Re: Belief
All the Memory in the World
July the Twelfth 1984
N64Q: Born Free
This Is Not the End
Davids and Goliath

The 37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival Schedule

Here it is! The 37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival schedule!

A few notes:

  • Tickets are free for SIU Students with ID
  • For SIU Staff, Faculty and our amazing local community:
  • Tickets are $4 for a day pass or $15 for a festival pass.
  • You may purchase a one-day pass or a weekly pass  online or at the door during the festival
  • The venues this year include the SIU Student Center Auditorium & Guyon Auditorium. WDBX, The African American Museum, and WDBX Community Radio.

Tuesday, February 24

7:00 pm – SIU Student Center

This is not the End
What’s in a Name
Where is Elle Kari and What Happened to Noriko-San
Little White Lie

Wednesday, February 25

10:00 am – SIU Student Center

Alternative Shorts
february 28
N64Q: Born Free
Maternity Test

1:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Documentary Shorts
Out of Deepwood
Not Anymore: Story of Revolution

3:00 pm – SIU Student Center

July the Twelfth 1984
John Michaels Award Showcase 
In an Ideal World (Tied, 3rd Place)

6:00 pm – SIU Student Center

37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival Opening Reception

7:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Hard-boiled Wonderland
Special screening of Prison Terminal  (Q & A with director  after film)

Thursday, February 26

10:00 am – SIU Student Center

A Queer Peace 
No Love Lost
Signals: Where Do We Go From Here
Mototanaka Dérive
Real West
My Fatherland Vegas
Depending on Traffic 

1:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Sci-Fi Shorts
Hat Trick
Into the Dark
The Place Where You Live
A Beautiful View of Nothing 

Five Minute Intermission

On the Mature Side (Adult Shorts)
Lady and the Frog
Between Times
Midnight Munchies (Q & A with director  after film)

3:00 pm – SIU Student Center

John Michaels Award Showcase 
(Tied, 3rd Place)
Crying Earth Rise Up
The Uprising 

7:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Love, Etc
M4m Seeks Love
Joy Kevin
Bread and Butter
Nowhere I’d Rather Be

10:00 pm – WDBX

Late Night Experimental Shorts
Sound of a Million Insects
InkJet 3056A
All the Memory in the World

Friday, February 27

10:00 am – SIU Student Center

Potluck Shorts
Out There
Support the Troops
Seven Ways From Sunday
Carry On
The Looking Planet
The Mortal Flame
Let go
Working Title

1:00 pm – SIU Student Center

World Cinema
Wallas on Velos
Zone 7

3:00 pm – SIU Student Center

John Michaels Award Showcase
2nd Place Winner
Arresting Power – Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon

6:00 pm – Guyon Auditorium @ Morris Library

Davids and Goliath

7:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Friday Night Fun

The Night Guardian
Henny’s Opus In B Minor (Q & A with director  after film)
Ham Over Rice
My Kingdom
Myrna the Monster

Juror Presentation: Anna Margarita Albelo with Q&A after film
Whos Afraid of Vagina Wolf

7:30 pm – Guyon Auditorium @ Morris Library

Dwarves Kingdom

Saturday, February 28

10:00 am – SIU Student Center

Saturday Morning Family Time
Zeke and the All-inclusive Cathouse
Treasure Nest
Lilly’s big day
Up in a Plane
Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead

1:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Animation Hotline
Almost There  (Q & A with directors after film) 

3:00 pm – TBD

John Michaels Award Showcase
1st Place Winner
Finding the Gold Within
Q&A after the screening with three of the film’s protagonists Brandyn Costa, Imani Scruggs and Stacee Starr

3:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Liar’s Dice – CANCELLLED

6:00 pm – Guyon Auditorium @ Morris Library

Changing Face of Harlem (Q&A with Director Shawn Batey after film)

7:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Nocturne (Q & A with director  after film)
5 Minute Intermission
Alexandria Leaving

7:30 pm – Guyon Auditorium @ Morris Library

The Urban World

Sunday, March 1

10:00 am – SIU Student Center

Girls Make Movies retrospective

11:00 am – SIU Student Center

Best of the Fest
Big Muddy Film Festival Awards

1:00 pm – SIU Student Center

Closing Reception

4:00pm – Location TBD
Sunday Night Feature & Shorts
(To be announced at a later date)

Big Muddy Film Festival Merchandise

Check out our Big Muddy Film Festival shop to purchase this year’s t-shirts for $15 or if you are seeking to relive our older festivals, we have shirts and sweatshirts available for $5 and $10.  This is a sample of our Big Muddy Merchandise.

You can pick up your merchandise from us at the festival, or we can ship it to you too! For shipping, please also add the shipping sku in checkout. Shipping costs $5 and we can ship to anywhere within the U.S. If you are outside of the U.S., please contact us via email at for more information.

Purchase Big Muddy Merchandise here!


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Oscar-nominated SIU Alum Edgar Barens @ Big Muddy

Oscar-nominated SIU Alum Edgar Barens @ Big Muddy

SIU Cinema & Photography Department Alum Edgar Barens, joins us for a screening of his Oscar-nominated documentary film, Prison Terminal on Wednesday, February 25th at 7:00pm in the SIU Student Center Auditorium. There will be a Q&A session after the screening.

PRISON TERMINAL: THE LAST DAYS OF PRIVATE JACK HALL is a moving cinema verité documentary that breaks through the walls of one of Americas oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner and the hospice volunteers, they themselves prisoners, who care for him. The film draws from footage shot over a six-month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.

Tickets for the Big Muddy Film Festival are free for current SIU Students with ID.

SIU Staff/Faculty and community members can purchase passes at the door or online.

The Expanding Media Symposium Presents: Question Bridge


SIU’s Global Media Research Center will host a new symposium in collaboration with the Big Muddy Film Festival titled Expanding Media: Identities. The inaugural symposium has been established to create a forum to examine current and expanding trends in media making. This year’s symposium considers issues of identity and will have a unique focus on issues of representation from the perspectives of black men in the United States.
Expanding Media: Identities will feature the work of photographer Chris Johnson and the development of Question Bridge, a film, interactive web site, and mobile app that is “…a platform for Black men of all ages and backgrounds to ask and respond to questions about life in America”.

The Expanding Media: Identities symposium will begin with a screening of Question Bridge: Black Males on Friday, February 20th at 4:00 pm in the John Guyon Auditorium of Morris Library. The screening is free and open to the public. A brief reception will follow the screening and the event will continue with a panel session including: Chris Johnson of The Question Bridge, Dr. Gerald Butters, Professor of History at Aurora University, Dr. Novotny Lawrence, Chair of SIUC’s Radio, Television and Digital Media Department, Dr. Angela Aguayo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography at SIUC and Hassan Pitts, Artist in Residence with the Big Muddy Film Festival.

A companion/ hands- on workshop titled Question This?: Workshopping the Tools of Cultural Dialog will take place on Saturday, February 21st from 1:00pm -3:00pm on the Cinema Soundstage in Communications 1116. Workshop leaders Chris Johnson and Hassan Pitts will guide participants on a practical and critical tour of today’s mobile technologies that will include concepts of ethnography and image-based representation. The event is free and open to the public. For workshop reservations, please contact Zach Sapienza at

For further information, please contact Jay Needham, Interim Director of the Global Media Research Center and Associate Professor for Radio, Television and Digital Media by email at


2015 John Michaels Award Winner: Finding the Gold Within

John Michaels was a cinema student at SIU Carbondale in the 1980s ,who dedicated his work to peace and justice. While a student, he traveled to Cuba with Professor Emeritus and Big Muddy Film Festival founder Mike Covell and Edgar Barens, recent Academy Award nominee who will kick off this year’s BMFF with Prison Terminal,to document the daily life of people immersed in that living revolution. Closer to home, Michaels worked on a film about a St Louis church that gave sanctuary to refugees from El Salvador

After leaving Carbondale, Michaels was diagnosed with brain cancer, from which he did not survive. To memorialize his work, the Big Muddy Festival added an award category to encourage filmmakers who focus on creating inspiring stories about struggles for social justice, locally and in the world. Each year a jury of local activists and engaged residents spends a day watching documentaries in order to select the ones that offered the most relevant, impassioned and engaged perspectives to the many troubles of our time. This year we viewed films covering a range of subjects, environmental racism, police brutality, institutional racism, industrial toxins and dangerous petro-infrastructures, and struggles for true democratic representation.

Many of these films intelligently, sometimes humorously, uncovered the systemic roots of injustice in laws that do not provide protection for the most vulnerable in our society. The most inspiring films revealed a vision of the possible- ways that people are reorienting themselves within the society by creating new communities, by conducting their own research and by forging new possibilities for the cultivation of non-violence, mutual care and justice as a public form of love.

The John Michael Award Winner, 2015


Finding the Gold Within
Directed by: Karina Epperlein
This is an inspiring documentary about the storytlling pedagogies of a youth program in Akron Ohio called the Alchemy Project. This beautifully shot film leaves viewers with a feeling of concrete hope and awe for the young men who are its subjects, as we see them become articulate spokespersons for their developing values of community and integrity. The Jungian based Alchemy Project nurtures young men within a circle of love and compassion, where together, participants support each other on the project of cultivating the inner capacities one needs to face life’s journey.

Second Place

Arresting Power
Arresting Power – Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon
Directed by Jodi Darby & Julie Perini
Also notable, and receiving second place was this acute and compassionate look at the realities of police brutality in Portland, Oregon. Produced through a collective study process by resident participants, the film is crucially relevant for keeping the problem of police indemnity in the public eye.
This sensitively and creatively made film honors the lives of hundreds of people who have been victims of police brutality, and highlights solutions, offering a model of citizen organizing and redress.

The jury noted several others films as important for facilitating discussion about how status quo conditions often reflect institutional racism and other forms of injustice. These documentaries offer a window to ways that people organize among themselves and seek change. Never tidy- these films show how messy organizing for change can be, and how it is necessarily integrated into the fabric of daily life.


The Uprising
Directed by Peter Snowden
An exhilarating experimentally edited montage of the pan-arabic rebellions in 2011, this film was compiled with the footage shot by hundreds of people across the Arabic world in that year.


In an Ideal World
Directed by Noel Schwerin
About a non-violent pedagogy program at Soledad prison- incredibly interesting story, inspiring and vitally important for inviting people to think about the institution of incarceration and its many failures.


Crying Earth Rise Up
Directed by Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden
This film about uranium mining brought so many issues together- especially explicitly linking industrial uses of land and the poisoning of land and water with rural issues and social inequities, particularly having to do with the sovereignty of indigenous people.


Another notable film was Out of Deepwood,directed by Craig Weflen which tells the story of how the City of Dallas allowed a toxic dump to fester in a middle class African American suburban neighborhood, until activists insisted it be cleaned up. This film offers a succinct understanding of how urban and suburban zoning laws operated to enforce environmental injustices throughout the last decades.

Come see these great films at the 37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival launching on February 24, 2015 – March 1, 2015.

The John Michaels Award Jury:
Courtney Smith, Jessica Allee, Shay Chess, Sharifa Stewart, Georgia de la Garza, Tod Kington, Paul Matelonis, Marilyn Smerken and Cathy Talbott.

Thanks also to the host Angela Aguayo and Chair Sarah Lewison

37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival Lineup


The 37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival Programming Committee is happy to announce it’s lineup for this year’s festival. This year, our committee chose from over 300+ submissions from around the world.

Animation (Feature)

Film Director
The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead & Roundhead Elliot Cowan

Animation (Short)

Film Director
A Queer Peace Bryce Wolfe
Animation Hotline 2013 Dustin Grella
Between Times Ru Kuwahata & Max Porter
Coffee Kevin McNulty
Deadly Aidan McAteer
LADY and the frog Tina Hsu
Let Go Danielle Braddish
Lilly’s Big Day Xstine Cook
My Kingdom Debra Solomon
Simorgh Meghdad Asadi Lari
The Looking Planet eric anderson
The Mortal Flame Daniel Crawford
Up in a Plane Rachel Moore
Zeke and the All-Inclusive Cat House Susan Shay Brugger

Documentary (Feature)

Film Director
Almost There Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden
Arresting Power- Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon Jodi Darby & Julie Perini & Erin Yanke
Changing Face of Harlem Shawn Batey
Crying Earth Rise Up Suree Towfighnia
Davids and Goliath Leon Lee
Dwarves Kingdom Matthew Salton
Finding the Gold Within Karina Epperlein
In an Ideal World Noel Schwerin
Little White Lie Mehret Mandefro
Off_Line Yaima Pardo
The Uprising Peter Snowdon
Where is Elle-Kari and what happened to Noriko-san? Dvorit Shargal

Documentary (Short)

Film Director
Champion Danny Ryan
Chapri Katarzyna   Plazinska
Hard-boiled Wonderland Wook Steven Heo
Henny’s Opus in B Minor Andrew Conte
M4M: Seeks Love Russell Sheaffer
N64Q: Born Free Sasha Gransjean
Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution Matthew VanDyke
Out of Deepwood Craig Weflen
PENNY Elizabeth Sher
Seven Ways From Sunday Robert Sickels
Sticky Jilli Rose
This is Not the End Hilary Campbell
Wallas on Velos Alton Valadares
What’s in a Name Daniel Robin

Experimental (Feature)

Film Director
All the Memory in the World Mike Olenick

Experimental (Short)  

Film Director
Cicatrix Jeremy Moss
Gaia Nick Graalman
Ham over Rice Ying Liu
Hat Trick Katherin McInnis
Inkjet 3056A Karissa Hahn
July the Twelfth 1984 Jordan Baseman
Maternity Test Irene Lusztig
Mototanaka Dérive Michael Lyons & Malte Steiner
noCOM Walter Ungerer
Ocean Stephanie Maxwell
Oracle Douglas Urbank
re:belief Raymond McCarthy Bergeron
REAL WEST Kevin T Allen
signals: where do we go from here? Shayna Connelly
Sound of a Million Insects, Light of a Thousand Stars Tomonari Nishikawa
Support The Troops: A Veteran’s View Paul Riedner
Working Title Irina Arnaut

Narrative (Feature)

Film Director
Alexandria Leaving John Zhao
Bread and Butter Liz Manashil
JOY KEVIN Caleb Johnson
Liar’s Dice Siddhant Chavan
Nocturne Saul Pincus
Zone 7 Carlo Obispo

Narrative (Short) 

Film Director
A Beautiful View of Nothing Blake Labriola
C.T.R.L Mariana Conde
Carry On Yatao Li
depending on traffic ben cotti
february 28 Diana Galimzyanova
FLOWERS Sabina Sattar
Friday Alex Cunningham
Into the Dark Lukas Hassel
Maria Katarzyna Plazinska
My Fatherland Vegas zvika nathan
Myrna the Monster Ian Samuels
No Love Lost Shekhar Bassi
Nostalgic Ronald Eltanal
Nowhere I’d Rather Be Joachim Pfefferkorn
The Night Guardian Brian Ott
The Place Where You Live Alexis Hurkman

37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival Jurors

The 37th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival is proud to announce the official jury for the 2015 festival. Prizes will be awarded in each of the festival’s categories including Animation, Documentary, Experimental and Narrative. The winning films will be announced at the Big Muddy Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the end of the festival.

 Jurors include:


 Anna Margarita Albelo is a globe-trotting Cuban-American filmmaker, journalist and cultural activist. Her feature film, “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” has screened in over 100 international film festivals, won 10 international awards, and is distributed worldwide, as are her past 3 documentaries: “HOOTERS, A Lez in Wonderland,” and “Gay, and so what?”  Anna has been a regular collaborator for Canal Plus France for whom she has written and directed the short film, “The Turkey” (Cannes Film Festival’s CRITIC’S WEEK, 2008), as well as, several original documentaries on gay and lesbian culture exploring Cuba, Palm Springs and Los Angeles. Her feature documentary on collaborative filmmaking and lesbian culture called, “HOOTERS!,” was an LA WEEKLY Top Pick. This year, Anna was a Juror for the 2014 Cannes International Film festival’s, “Queer Palm” award and is in development of new projects for film and television.


Melika Bass is a Chicago-based moving image artist who creates experimental narrative films and experiential installations. Recent shows include the Torino Film Festival in Italy, a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2011); the BFI London Film Festival, UK; Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York; Kino der Kunst, Munich; and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.Bass is the recipient of an Artadia Award, two Media Arts Fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Kodak/Filmcraft Imaging Award from the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and an Experimental Film Prize from the Athens International Film Festival. Bass was one of a dozen international filmmakers commissioned by the Icelandic band SIGUR ROS to create an original video for their “Valtari Mystery Film Experiment.”


Bob Paris’ electronic art has screened at venues around the world including the Whitney Biennial, the Image Forum Festival in Tokyo and the Rencontres Internationales in Paris and Berlin. He currently directs The Cluster Project, an ongoing web gallery and blog that uses multimedia artworks to explore weapons, war, civilian casualties and pop culture. In 2015 Paris will launch online the Disturbance Cycle, a series of works that resurrect scenes from the TV coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots to explore spectacle, social disaster, and historic amnesia. Paris received a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is currently an associate professor in Kinetic Imaging at VCU’s School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia, where he teaches socially engaged media and video production.

Call For Submissions: The Digital Muddy

With a desire to engage the expanding modalities of film and media, the Big Muddy Film Festival announces a call for digital media submissions for the 2015 Digital Muddy program to coincide with the Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale, Illinois. Selected works will represent a fresh ongoing curation of various trends and practices that engage the illusive notion of the expanding digital narrative. All new and traditional genres will be considered.

Particular attention will be paid to new media, net art, interactive, website based projects, webisodes, digital imaging, user generated imagery, participatory, experimental, social engagement, etc. and sound, film, video, animation that in many ways eludes or refutes its placement inside the black box theater.

This inaugural showcase will be juried by digital artist and curator Nia Burks. The selected work will be showcased online via the Digital Muddy 2015 website, a segment of the Big Muddy Film Festival site.

Submit now on Film Freeway! 




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