Big Muddy founder, Mike Covell, believes the festival’s core of showing quality and important work of independent filmmakers is crucial. He also once said that one of the festival’s goals “is to honor individual voices and balance the realms of beautiful artistic endeavor as well as those that are politically oriented.” The Mike Covell award was created to honor an Southern Illinois University of Carbondale alumni film that showcases the most impassioned, engaged and original perspective cinematically.
The filmmaker who will be awarded the 1st Annual Mike Covell Award is SIUC alum, Devin Vaughn for his film Uptown which was screened in our Slice of Life showcase on Thursday, Feb 23, 2018. Uptown follows a young woman on the North Side of Chicago reacting to an act of street violence.
Four years ago, director, Devin Vaughn, woke up to gunshots outside his Chicago apartment and screams of terror. He witnessed the victim, being taken away on a stretcher. In his article, “Story of Uptown Street Violence at Center of New Film”, Josh McGee spoke to Devin Vaughn about his film. Devin stated that “as bad as Chicago has it, when you look at the national homicide rate by city, Chicago isn’t even in the top ten. This story could have been told the same way in a number of different neighborhoods in a number of different cities. Uptown Chicago was just where he experienced it.”
For Devin, the film, Uptown, was about acknowledging the sadness that comes with numbing yourself to street violence and the conditions that cause it and with the on-going political climate that we have circulating about guns and street crime, it’s an important issue that needs to be addressed, which is why Devin is being given this award.