The John Michaels Film Award is an award that The Big Muddy Film Festival holds close to its heart. It is an award dedicated to a former student. John Michaels was a cinema student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the 1980s and left SIUC with an MFA to become a filmmaker. His dreams, however, were cut short when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died during his second surgery to remove the tumor. While may not be making movies today, his presence touched the lives of those he worked with, especially those of the Big Muddy Film Festival. To memorialize his work, in 2003 the Big Muddy Film Festival added an award category to encourage young filmmakers who focus on creating inspiring stories about the struggles for social justice, peace and environmental issues, both local and internationally.
The award is selected by a jury of members from the community who are peace and justice activists as Michaels was. They spend a day watching documentaries and select ones that offer the most relevant, impassioned, and engaged perspectives to the troubles of today.
The winner of the 2017 John Michaels Film Award is Sue Useem’s The Peace Agency.
The Peace Agency is an emotionally powerful and thought-provoking film, documenting the difficulties women face – and the triumphs they can achieve – in Indonesia. It captures the blunt realities of living on the margins of a country still struggling to embrace the concept of women’s rights and inter-communal harmony.
In honor of its big win, we are hosting a special screening of the film during our Big Muddy Preview Event tomorrow, Monday, February 20, 2017 at Guyon Auditorium in the Morris Library from 6 p.m – 8 p.m, following the short film, Fragments!
Congratulations to everyone that worked hard on the film and see you all tomorrow!