Day 2: Tom Ludwig Speaks, Reflections in Real Time Showcases Different Walks of Life and The John Michaels Showcase Prompts New and Powerful Discussion

Tom Ludwig is an award-winning filmmaker and arts educator from Kalamazoo, Michigan who teaches film interpretation at Western Michigan University and film and video production for Education for the Arts; a unique countywide arts education program for the public schools in Kalamazoo County. Over the past 30 years, he taught these subjects at Oakland Community College, The University of Michigan, Detroit Filmmakers Coalition, Bowling Green State University, and Schoolcraft College prior to settling in Kalamazoo. Since graduating from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1981 with an MFA in film production, Tom has worked in Detroit, Chicago, and Hollywood as a director of photography, editor, screenwriter, director, and producer on narrative feature films, commercials, and promotional videos. He has even submitted to the festival beforehand. His film Mu, screened at the 39th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival. However, Tom is back for this year’s Big Muddy Film Festival and this year, he returns as one of our jurors. Today, he will be speaking on his experiences as an educator, filmmaker, and former SIU student at 12 PM in the Soundstage (Room 1116) of the SIUC Mass Communications Building.

Later on, the the Flyover Infoshop will be hosting the annual John Michaels Showcase. John Michaels was a cinema student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the 1980’s and left SIUC with a master’s in the fine arts to become a filmmaker. However, his dream was cut short when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died during his second surgery to remove the tumor. However, during his time at SIUC he made a big impression. While he was a student, he traveled to Cuba with Professor Emeritus and Big Muddy Film Festival founder, Mike Covell, and Academy Award nominee, Edgar Barens, to document the lives of the people immersed in that living revolution. Closer to home, he worked on a film about a St. Louis church that gave sanctuary to refugees from El Salvador.

He may not be making movies today, but he 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 on the troubles of today. The jury this year consisted of a number of local activists from organizations such as the Southern Illinois Immigrations Rights Project, The Carbondale Solidarity Network, Southen Illinoisans Against Fracking our Environment, The Sparrow Coalition, The Center for Empowerment and Justice, The Carbondale Tool Library, John A. Logan Diversity, Land of Lincoln Housing and the Women’s Center.

Tonight, The Valley Rebels, Evidence of the Evidence and dancedance/Re♦Volution will be screened at the Flyover Infoshop from 5-7 PM as part of the John Michaels Festival Showcase. The director of dancedance/Re♦Volution, Mark Freeman, will also be doing a Skype Q&A and at the end of the night, the winners will be announced. Light discussion after each film is also encouraged.

The importance of film, specifically independent cinema, lies in its ability to showcase different walks of life in meaningful and engaging ways. The Big Muddy Film Festival has always become a platform for people to showcase their work and use their voice to show the world how they view the things going on around them. These are people who lead alternative lifestyles that are underrepresented in cinema. These are people who have inspiring stories to tell about their experiences. There are people who have important messages to spread about our world that are seemingly forgotten about or have yet to be told and these stories are reflected in our Reflections in Real Time Documentary Showcase.

As part of our Reflections in Real Time Documentary Showcase, we will also be screening Abby the Spoon Lady, Hill Climb, Every Ghost Has An Orchestra, How to Be Bad, Sanctuary, Flint Michigan: The United States of America, Dancing in Limbo and Sakantama. This Showcase will be from 6-8 pm at the SIUC Student Center

And we’ve got a big mix of films here. There’s something for everything at The Big Muddy Film Festival, so if you’re looking for a good time, come on by to either of those locations to catch a screening. For a full festival schedule and more information about each film, click here. For more information on the rest of our jurors, click here.