What To Watch: 38th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival

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.