Day 4: Ben Kalina arrives to Carbondale and the Slice of Life narratives encapsulate new life

Ben Kalina is the COO and Supervising Producer of Titmouse Animation. He is responsible for overseeing production and development across its three studios. He helps promote and maintain the studios’ overall vision, facilitates all incoming jobs and manages processing techniques. While serving as supervising producer on Amazon’s Niko and the Sword of Light, the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program. Prior to Titmouse, he worked in production at Warner Bros. Animation & VFX. During his time there he helped develop their digital pipeline and worked on transitioning the studio from traditional paper animation to a digital workflow.

He currently oversees production on the Netflix comedy series Big Mouth, the upcoming Amazon kids show Little Big Awesome, and the seventh season of the Adult Swim cult classic Venture Bros. Though Titmouse is known primarily for their television programming, Kalina has been instrumental in expanding Titmouse’s scope and client base to include advertising campaigns, music videos, and video game trailers. Recent projects include the Grammy-nominated music video for Jay-Z’s “The Story of OJ,” a Nike for Champs TV spot, and a Clash Royale: Sea of Chaos multi-spot promotional package. He will be speaking from 12-12:50 pm at the SIUC Mass Communications Soundstage (Room 1116).

The Female Empowerment Showcase features films that depict the lives of women as something extraordinary. From films depicting little known, but highly significant movements to films that aid in empowering domestic violence survivors, this block is dedicated to showcasing the immense strength that women have to overcome any obstacle that may happen to come their way. This showcase will occur at Longbranch Cafe and Bakery from 4-6pm.

Tony Carter-Hill’s Wearing the Big Heart is a personal film that magnifies a series of peculiar moments from the initial Women’s March in Los Angeles, California. The film is a tribute to the self-expression which took form during the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles, which occurred shortly after the 2017 inauguration.


Here Still is a short documentary film about surviving intimate partner violence. The goal of the film is to empower survivors both on and off the screen through the creation of a collective voice. The focus is on the healing process as opposed to the abuse itself, a conversation that is rarely discussed.

Alyssa Michener states that the film began production in August of 2016 as political and social justice movements began to rise because of the presidential election. “I knew that I needed to make this film to destigmatize the experience of surviving intimate partner violence; as femme bodies were politicized and sexual assault became a primary topic of discussion in the political sphere, this became especially relevant. The lack of education on how to identify abuse, what sexual assault means, and what a healthy relationship is are large contributing factors to the problem. This documentary breaks the barrier of silence and shame that survivors frequently encounter, giving voices to an injustice that is rarely discussed. These stories need to be shared not only as an educational tool, but to encourage survivors to seek help and show that they are not alone.”

The John Michaels Award Winner for this year is Left on Pearl. Left on Pearl captures the moment when a generation of women rose up to resist their second-class status. This fast-paced 55-minute documentary focuses on a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women’s liberation movement, the 1971 takeover and occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women. The ten-day occupation of 888 Memorial Drive by women demanding a Women’s Center and low-income housing for the community in which the building stood, embodied within it many of the hopes and glories – as well as the conflicts and fault lines – of what came to be known as Second Wave feminism. The women of this movement identified their subordination not only in society at large, but even within the liberal/radical milieu of the civil rights and antiwar movements. They shared their experiences in consciousness-raising groups,” which led to activism and resistance.

Many of the basic rights we take for granted today are a direct result of the consciousness-raising, protests, and persistence of second-wave feminists. As a member of “Generation X”, director Susie Rivo feel deeply grateful to Second Wave feminists. She believes that “now, more than ever, we need to pass on inspiring stories of resistance to the generations coming up. Misogyny, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and general bullying have become normalized to an alarming degree and the women in Left on Pearl are inspiring, funny, and a testament to the power of organizing.”

Also, happening from 5-8pm at the Student Center Auditorium is the Slice of Life Narrative Showcase. This showcase depicts the lives of everyday people. The emphasis, however, is on the now as their lives are observed and examined. The films being screened are: Unforgotten, Bitches Love Brunch, Just Be There, Burning Angel Dust, Uptown, Safety Net and A Desert Storm. 

For more information about the festival screening, check out the schedule here.