Over the course of its 40-year run, The Big Muddy Film Festival has had a numerous amount of openings. Films featured at our opening night celebration are films that tend to our showcase what our festival stands for: independent cinema.
We hone in on films that you most likely wouldn’t see in any other setting and the best thing about The Big Muddy Film Festival is that it is centered right here in beautiful Southern Illinois. This year’s opening reception will be at Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library from 6-8 PM. There will be food, fun and more importantly, film and this year we have two great comedies that you are sure to enjoy. Fredrick Johnson’s After Hours Trading is a feature-length, crime comedy about a shiftless malcontent who teams up with a shady Eastern European con artist to make some quick cash. However, he ends up becoming an unlikely, and reluctant, Robin Hood when he discovers his new partner-in-crime has traveled halfway around the world to free a victim of human trafficking.
“What’s so funny about human trafficking?” That was the first question that Fredrick Johnson was asked after pitching “After Hours Trading” to a potential funder early in the development process. “Naturally,” he states, “there is nothing funny about human trafficking. But, just because it is a serious social issue, does that mean it should be off-limits for a film with comedic elements?”
Inspired by two documentaries that he saw on human trafficking, he states that the two films took the intellectual concept of human trafficking and made it human to him. “It made me aware of the immensity of the scale of the issue and the millions of people affected,” he stated. “My hope is that this film will entertain those who see it, but also, in some small way, also help to create an awareness of this global concern. Most comedies today, regardless of how funny they are, are relatively superficial. I have always been more interested in films that mix light and dark, that balance the humor with some grim reality of our human experience: Trainspotting and the despair of addiction, Life is Beautiful and the horrors of the Holocaust, M.A.S.H. and the insanity of war, and Fargo and the terror of random crime and brutality. This blend and juxtaposition can create situations and moments that are absurd, thought-provoking, or genuinely poignant, and hopefully result in a work that resonates more deeply with audiences.”
Also screening at tonight’s opening is Fredric Lehne’s Shy Guys. “Laughter is good,” Fredric states about his directorial debut and in this short film, we find two strangers bringing the laughs as they confront and resolve one of the most insidious scourges afflicting mankind – while standing at public urinals with their willies out.