Announcing The Films for The 41st Annual Big Muddy Film Festival

The Big Muddy Film Festival represents all things surrounding diversity, possibilities, freedom, change and the beauty of human connectivity. Each year, the festival serves to showcase more and more stories to reflect these themes and more from independent voices all over the world. This year, after careful deliberation, the festival has selected 98 films from a selection of 311 submissions, ranging from engaging documentaries on gentrification and music to sensory-driven experiementals on the dangers of capitalism and more. This year’s festival will run from February 18-24, 2019, so we hope to see you all there.

More information about the festival jurors, the awards and moreover, the schedule will follow soon.

So, without further adieu, here are the films:

Ofra Bloch | Afterward – In this timely and fearless personal documentary, director Ofra Bloch engages with the people she was raised to hate and dismiss. Seen as a victim in one context and a perpetrator in the next, the film points towards a future – an “afterward” – that attempts to live with the truths of history in order to make sense of the present.

Suki DeJong | The Story of a Forest – In 2004, a generation of activists arose in South Florida, carrying the passion of direct action groups like Earth First! and the deep analysis of the global justice movement that had swept the country in the preceding years. They sought local issues that exemplified the threats of corporate globalization which they had traveled all over the country protesting at free trade summits, political conventions and industry conferences.

They stumbled upon a plan from biotech industry giants acting in collusion with the administration of then-Governor Jeb Bush to clear a vast swath of land in the Northeast Everglades of Florida to accommodate The Scripps Biotech Research Institute… And it was on.

Over the next ten years, endless county zoning meetings were counter-balanced by dozens of civil disobedience arrests and a near-constant flow of news headlines about the battle: lawsuits, scandal, corruption, gag-orders, tree sits, the loss of endangered species, pranks, blockades, sabotage, and a roller coaster of incremental victories followed by devastating losses for years on end.

Marco Mingolla | Lotus – Lotus is a docufilm about the story of Malai, a beautiful Thai girl in her universe of simplicity and poetry.

Ariel Teal | Becoming Becoming is a film about embodying a body after trauma. Blowjobs, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and memory are interwoven in attempt to process and find bodily autonomy. It is a  collage of director, Ariel Teal’s youth, sexuality, violence, and the desire to understand her current self in the context of personal history.

Brielle Brilliant | STREAKERS – A little girl decides to become a Streaker to distract from her sister’s violent behavior.

Mark Ward | Masters – A frazzled young woman prepares to take the hardest test in the world. Thankfully the only thing on the line is everything.

Tyrone L. Robinson | Un{Harmed} – A young black man is stopped one evening by two police officers. The encounter escalates quickly and when it reaches a crisis point he receives help from an unexpected place.

David Silva – Venus in Aquaris. Chapter II: Ana – Ana dances in her erotic universe, in spaces that manifest themselves from her own memories and sensations. This short film is based on the intimate experience of a woman whose sexuality is disputed between the pleasure and the anguish she experiences due to the impossibility of having an orgasm. Ana is movement, sound, matter and space. Her body goes through different states that represent the cyclic stages of a process of contact, sexual arousal and failure at the peak of pleasure. Ana seeks in her privacy a way of feeling herself, of establishing a relationship with her body, her past and her desires.

Kaitlin McMurry | Ashes to Ashes – A small community in Northwest Alabama. A mayor whose town sits on the river’s banks. A businessman in the Mobile Bay. All of these communities are impacted by coal ash in Alabama.

Cat Ventura | Holly Goes to Therapy – A troubled woman participates in an unconventional therapy session.

Leon Lee | Letter From Masanjia – When a woman in Oregon opens a box of Halloween decorations and finds a distressing letter written by a political prisoner from inside a Chinese labour camp, her discovery makes waves across major news outlets worldwide. Meanwhile, the author of the letter, Sun Yi, breaks through internet firewalls to learn about the attention his letter has received and joins forces with an underground network of journalists and Chinese dissidents to reveal his entire story. From Peabody Award–winning director Leon Lee, Letter From Masanjia takes us deep into the horrific realities of China’s labour camps through the eyes of Sun Yi, who’s determined to expose these unthinkable human rights violations. Despite being hotly pursued by local authorities, he stops at nothing to find justice, ultimately leading to large-scale reform of China’s labour camp system.

Jeff Cerulli & Matt Ritter | Tasteless -Back in the 1980s, a series of controversial books aptly titled Truly Tasteless Jokes swept the nation with their crude, controversial and oft-hilarious zingers. With comedy that pushed the boundaries of racism and gender, the Truly Tasteless books are a testament to how comedic culture has transformed over time. The film explores the evolution of comedy through the lens of the iconic Truly Tasteless books. Tasteless examines how the series author, Ashton Applewhite, went from a crude joke author to a feminist activist; how comedy has evolved since the 1980s, and how the dirty jokes of our past stand in today’s social climate.

Andrea Yu-Chieh Chung | Finding Nasseebi – A soul-searching filmmaker sets out to make a documentary about the United Arab Emirates’ Islamic hotline center, where scholars answer questions and guide people towards the right path according to the Quran. As a friendship blossoms with one of the scholars, the filmmaker’s relationship with a Muslim boyfriend makes her question her beliefs and the integrity of her film. This self-reflexive documentary follows one woman’s journey to understand Islam and to love, regardless of differences in faith.

Gravity Feed | Oceti Sakowin Zombie Apocalypse – A view of the eviction and last two days of the Oceti Sakowin Water Protector Camp.

Peter Murphey Seen Again – A troubled man, trying to make sense of his life while driving through the Arizona desert, encounters difficult memories from his past that appear as a storm of personal objects falling from the sky.possibilities—of these increasingly common eruptions in urban life?

Peter Murphey | Since. Now. After  – Three channel, experimental animation and video exploring three-different states in time.

David Lindinger | Man Stands Still – A man living in Marrakech stands still for a moment to remember his long lost life in a simple village.

Princess A. Hairston | Don’t Expel The Blacks Don’t Expel the Blacks is a short film about gentrification in Brooklyn. Residents in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn explain the effects gentrification has on their community.

Wally Chung | Fun More – A war of words leads to an epic standstill.

Giuliana Foulkes & Charlotte Hong Bee Her | ICUCICU – Two tween girls with magical powers surf a dangerous Web, blurring the lines between love and domination.

Jason Coyle & Laska Jimsen | Deer of North America Deer of North America documents spaces where lines between artificial and natural, domesticated and wild, are blurred and where landscapes are managed, tamed, transformed, and controlled.

Shaan Couture | New York Scherzo – Set in the ever-changing New York City, New York Scherzo touches on social issues that transcend music such as the struggles of sustainability living as a artist in New York City, gentrification, diversity, the value of arts in a digital era, and the financial pressure classical musicians face when they try to pursue a career in the arts.

Justin Davey | Montana Divided: A Climate Change Story – In September 2017, filmmaker Justin Davey, and climate change expert Samantha Harris, explored Montana to better understand local impacts and perceptions of climate change. In doing this, they discovered that Montana represents a micro-case study of the climate change situation in much of the United States – while many communities are experiencing the effects of climate change and conditions are ripe for solutions like renewable energy, there is a political and ideological division that prevents solutions.

Cem Göksoy | Quintessence Quintessence is a short film about the correlation between human and the law of energy.

Stéphane Olijnyk | URSINHO – Favela resident Nounours, an overweight mixed race 30 year old introvert, fantasizes about his dream Adonis: one of Copacabana’s high end male prostitutes.

Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer & Quinn Costello | Rodents of Unusual Size – The residents of Louisiana never know what will attack them next: floods, hurricanes, even monstrous swamp rats. Gigantic orange-toothed nutria are eating up the coastal wetlands, destroying the landscape, and threatening the very existence of the human population. This invasive South American species breeds faster than the roving squads of hunters and trappers can control them. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who let their land—and their livelihoods—recede into the Gulf without a fight. Meet fisherman turned bounty hunter Thomas Gonzales and a pack of colorful diehards as they defend their land, culture, and way of life against the unforgiving forces of nature. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.

Cheri Gaulke | Gloria’s Call – Scholar Gloria Orenstein’s life is forever changed through her wild journey into friendships with the women artists of Surrealism. As she witnesses the visionary art and personal struggles of Leonora Carrington, Jane Graverol, Leonor Fini and Meret Oppenheim, she discovers her personal calling as a pioneer scholar of Surrealism and ecofeminism. Gloria’s Call takes viewers from the cafes of Paris to the mountaintops of Samiland through richly layered art, animation and personal storytelling.

Jesseca Ynez Simmons | I Can Only Be Mary Lane – Born in 1935, Chicago singer Mary Lane is one of the last living legends of American Blues. If only the world knew.

LeiLei | Shadow – This film tells about a girl who had been followed and abused sexually suffered sendary injuries which were all from different treatments of people around her.

Elena Blokhina | Six Degrees of Separation – Vera has a complicated relationship with her elderly mother. At the other side of the town, Maria decides to reactivate the search of her daughter, who she abandoned a long time ago.

Carmelo Zucco | Pulp Revelation  Pulp Revelation is a surreal tale born from the bizarre realm of the Bible’s Revelation prophecies. A cryptic vision of the second coming of our maker…but did we make the maker? Is redemption, betrayal and rebirth a never ending cycle for mankind? A grand yet intimate journey of memory, faith and the zenith of artificial intelligence.

Irina Patkanian | Little Fiel – Artist Fiel dos Santos grew up during the 16-year-long civil war in his home country of Mozambique. The only one of his family to never have shot a gun, today he makes art out of guns to commemorate the lives lost.

Lewis Leon | L’Homme et le Poisson – Set against the backdrop of a vast, frozen tundra; a grizzled fisherman gets his comeuppance from a vindictive, yet familiar fish.

Thomas Nicol Good Night Little Knight –  Lizzie’s father has given her a teddy bear to help ward off bad dreams.

Ken Paul Rosenthal | Whisper Rapture –  Whisper Rapture is an intensely intimate portrait of cellist-vocalist Bonfire Madigan Shive, who transforms her lifelong experiences with hearing voices and suicidal despair into punk-influenced chamber music. Madigan’s heartfelt story of managing madness and finding wellness through music is heard over silent cello performances inspired by Butoh dance and Balinese shadow puppetry. Featuring six original Bonfire music compositions vividly animated by luminous images from natural and urban environments, this visually inventive doc-opera radically re-frames the way we think, speak and feel about mental distress and creativity.

Margaret Bialis | Opening Night – Look within. Then dance it out. A man reflects on formative conflicts from his past with optimism, humor, and gratitude… with a musical twist.

Amanda Lovejoy Street | Magic Bullet – Parallel losses push strangers Rachel and Lia into self-soothing rituals and self-destructive hazes, only to collide unwittingly on a regional Florida shopping network

Jeff Zorrilla | Monger  – An explosive look at the lives of three men who take part in the world of sexual tourism in Buenos Aires that gives an insight into the motivations and attitudes that fuel the sex trade and the reactionary wave of global misogyny that has reached a boiling point.

John Thimothy | The Notion – Former NSG Commander and Mumbai Terror Attack survivor unexpectedly committed suicide after 9 years. Wife and famous writer is reluctant to provide information to authorities.

Brian C O’Malley | Samsa – A young man mysteriously transforms into a strange cyclops-like creature, alienating him from his normal life. He eventually completes a cathartic journey on foot to Lake Placid, NY to make an attempt on the K120 ski jump to find nirvana.

Sam Damask | Bad Bad Rabbit  Bad Bad Rabbit is a music video for artist Grand Commander, created to express the bewilderment one feels when wrongfully accused and persecuted by someone whose mind cannot be changed, and the search for spiritual redemption that follows.

The Bum Family | Lily Goes Fishing – Lilly, a giant orange monster, embarks on an adventure at a lakeside fishing camp with her friend Fluffle. Will Lilly discover the mysterious secret that lurks below the surface of the lake?

Garrick Hamm | The Ghost – A true story of a boy’s search for his father, a footballing legend.

Gabriella Marsh | Mothers and Daughters Mothers And Daughters is a short film depicting the tensions between a mother, her unresponsive teenage daughter and her demanding elderly mother. It explores some of the pressures we put on our mothers: we expect them always to be a slave to their families, showing us nothing but love and affection, but we ask that they do it without complaint and then negate to show them gratitude.

Henna Välkky & Eesu Lehtola | We Are In a Dream –  There is a line of men chasing us through a city where we can’t run. The escape is gruelling, our feet are wet and we drown deeper. We are not afraid, we have seen this before.

Sadegh Javadi Nikjeh | The Fox – A young fox on the verge of experiencing the first love got trapped by a hunter. The Hunter ties his dog collar bell on the fox’s neck and leaves her in the wood. And then the fox begins his effort to survive and love and revenge.

Luca Cioci | Medium Rare – Functional and aesthetic values in recurrent, yet questionable domestic scenarios.

Gloria Mercer | All Happened Before – Amanda is a restless young girl coping with her babysitter moving away. After a traumatic incident, she is forced to reckon with saying goodbye to her childhood.

Yamiset Trujillo & Jane Suarez | Night Light – A wide-eyed, newborn sea turtle named Fin finds himself on the illuminated beaches of Miami. It is a perilous time to be a hatchling, with hazards of artificial light and debris present at every turn. With the help of Abueluna, his caring, celestial guide, Fin will make the daring trek from his cluttered nest to the open seas.

Joe Badon | The God Inside My Ear – After experiencing a peculiar and sudden breakup with her boyfriend, Elizia discovers a world of conspiracies, strange voices and horrifying visions.

Fredric Lehne | Margaret and Gary – A man and his GPS, fleeing murder and madness, drive into the twilight zone.

Ed Carter | Letters From Eniwetok – A woman who lives by the beach retrieves objects brought to her by the tide.

Jill Daniels | Breathing Still – Part agit-prop, part essay film, Breathing Still creates a compelling portrait of Berlin as the right-wing nationalist party the AfD wins members in Parliament for the first time. Weaving together voice-over, stills, archive and found footage, Daniels’ flaneuse, a follower of the Polish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, who was assassinated by fascists nearly a century ago, explores Berlin’s streets, and memorials to Luxemburg and the Jews who once lived there.

Mélina Quitich-Niquay | Onicka – Foray into a young woman’s nightmares.

Sean J. Kenny | Perforation Jubilation – Freed from sprocket bondage, film perforations dance and sing across the horizon, no longer held fast in their role as the unseen workhorse of cinema.

Ben Edelberg | My Fuzzy Valentine – Put the Playboy centrefold in the hands of a Dyke and she will make her into a monster.

Desiree Dawn Kapler | below the neck, above the knees – A filmmaker shares diaristic stories from her life, contemplating the different ways in which one could feel bodily trauma, and explores the act of violation in the context of trauma and healing.

Susan DeLeo | Your Darkness – A lyrical journey with super 8mm film and sound. A stream of consciousness piece conceived from dark wanderings and trance-like states in and out of the western landscape.

Lyntoria Newton | Hey Little Black Girl – Sometimes even imagination is not a strong enough shield to protect us from the contamination of the world but once upon a time there was a little black girl. Through her imagination, she propelled herself into a dimension of new surfaces with old echoes of the little black girls who came before her. This story is told through vignettes of little black girls of yesterday and today meeting viewers at the intersection between youthful imagination and adult reality.

Gregg Biermann | Disphasure – Disphasure is very complex film that imposes repetition, position changes, patterns of flips and other elements onto a grid of images. The result is hypnotic… kaleidoscopic.

Chi Leong Cheang | Goodbye Again, Macau – A journey to Macau, this piece explores a different part of the city through the eyes of the filmmaker.

Noah Canavan | 93 Miles – The night after defecting Cuba, a baseball player and his girlfriend are held up in a Mexican hotel room. The tension rises as the two become claustrophobic in this stressful situation that they are stuck in.

Chung-Wei Huang | Midnight Carnival  – Midnight Carnival tells the story of Andrea Lin, a confused Taiwanese girl in her late teens struggling to find her place in the world. In search of the adventure that is missing from her life, she takes a summer job in America working for a traveling carnival, where she is confronted with the harsh realities of life as a migrant worker. After struggling to connect with her “carney” co-workers, including Julio, a young, free-spirited Mexican man, she must come to terms with her feelings of wanting to belong, yet never feeling at home.

Alex Cunningham | Boral Pather Panchali – In the early 1950’s, Satyajit Ray chose the village of Boral as the shooting location of his debut and most well known film Pather Panchali. Today, Boral is a bustling electrified Kolkata suburb, but it still bears marks of its cinematic past.

Anuradha Rana | counter//balance – A foot balances precariously on a slick floor. A wheel turns and poses on pointe. They meet and overlap in our vision, moving away simultaneously as if never there. Innumerable, yet slight iterations edge them towards gritty and resolute perfection. Some moments are easy to grasp, embrace, and memorialize. Others shiver, shift, and elude form. A percussive sole, a guitar chord, a wheel skidding across an unforgiving floor. A pattern evolves as it is reshaped, movements repeated, recreated, revealed.

Catya Plate – Meeting MacGuffin – In a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has fallen apart, a group of scientists and an animated sign complete the construction of a new human race and meet a groundhog climatologist who prepares them for their mission to restore balance to the decimated Earth.

Diane Nerwen | Where the Truth Lies – Where the Truth Lies is a found footage collage poem for absurd times. Disparate images, sounds and text collide in a world of trickery and deception.

Lynn Tomlinson | The Elephant’s Song The Elephant’s Song tells the true and tragic tale of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in America, as recounted in song by her friend the old farm dog.

Zoë Robertson | Kickstand: Community Bike Shop – In the heart of one of the world’s most expensive cities, a Vancouver bike shop supports the community with the knowledge, effort and enthusiasm of volunteers. Working within the network of community bike shops in Vancouver, Kickstand’s commitment to education, empowerment, accessibility, inclusivity, and recycling presents a powerful argument for alternative models of service provision in a commodified world.

Hope Tucker | Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf – Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf is a monument to the power of public protest and the potential of a democratic vote.

Mark Smith | Two Balloons – Two adventurous lemurs navigate their dirigibles halfway around the world to a place where happenstance and fate threaten to disrupt their reunion.

Nishat Hossain | Matir Shapla – A map of the world in two spheres, and two massacres.

Bernd Lützeler | _galore – The streetscapes of contemporary Indian metros are largely dominated by products. The bazaar expands into all other parts of the city and claims a large percentage of the available public space. The vast majority of the local shops is lacking the facility of a shop window. Instead, their architecture can be described as a garage style, windowless, rectangular box, open to the front. Stepping into such a shop can be like entering a complete new world: Many of them are literally filled with products galore up to the ceiling. The product itself serves as the interior design. Every day hundreds of busses with thousands of shop owners and their family members come from the surrounding villages and small towns into the city. Especially during the rush hours the market gets overrun by an avalanche of customers who seem to enjoy their high-density shopping experience. Shopping galore. Products galore. Profits galore.

Emily Bayrock | Letters to My Ex-Lover: A Conversation in 6 Parts  6 young people discuss their first experiences with love, and what they would say to their first love if they could go back as who they are now.

Andrew Sobey | night shift – night shift presents dancing under the stars as you have never seen it before.

Haruka Motohashi | Back Home  Back Home is an autobiographical documentary about the filmmaker’s heart-rending personal journey to reconcile with her estranged mother, who is about to undergo hip surgery in Tokyo. Filmed mostly by the director herself, the story explores the complexity of the Mother-Daughter relationship, which had been strained over the years apart by physical and emotional distance.

Artemis Shaw | Aquaculture – The employees of a cult-like biotech start-up test their product on themselves.

Matt Meindl | Gone Sale – Faceless forms inhabit the shadow-sprayed remnants of an electronic shopping mall board game. Slumber party capitalism, now a bargain bin of lost dreams.

Joardan Blankenship | The New Woman – A short experimental film that uses poem, collage and reference to female filmmakers and artists to declare to the world what being “The New Woman” in 2018 means.

Lynne Sachs & Lizzie Olesker | The Washing Society – The Washing Society brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there by observing these disappearing neighborhood spaces and the continual, intimate labor that happens there.

Kym McDaniel | Exit Strategy #2 – In Exit Strategy #2, director, Kym McDaniel, seeks treatment for a head injury and a memory is triggered from years earlier.

Yiying Nikki Li | Love & Loss – Love & Loss follows two surprisingly strong women: Karen Crespo & Nicole Evans. Both women are vibrantly physically disabled; however, Nicole was born disabled while Karen became disabled later in life. There is a tremendous difference between being born with a disability and becoming disabled later. Nicole has had the past 30 years to cope with and learn to embrace her disability while Karen had deal with both the physical and emotional trauma almost overnight. Despite their trials, these women are taking steps to find love in their lives. Through the observation of the dating lives of theirs, this film explores the challenging and often unconventional intimate relationships of physically-impaired individuals, as well as how those individuals define and live their lives within the context of their disabilities.

John Barnard | The Empty Woods – A woman enters the world of an image in a nature photography exhibit to escape the bizarre patrons of the art gallery where the image hangs. Arriving in a surreal forest of precisely-ordered rows of trees, she discovers her enemies have followed her.

Julie Perini | The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Life Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter Rita Bo Brown – The story of Rita Bo Brown, a working-class butch from rural Oregon, an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, ex-prisoner and member of the militant, underground George Jackson Brigade, active in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest.

Tracy Park | Meat Wrapped in Dough – Everyone’s favorite food group! A light-hearted animated homage to delicious meat wrapped in tasty dough. A food that crosses many cultural and national boundaries.

Saul Singleton | Since the First Day We Met – A deaf boy moves to a new school, and finds himself through meeting his new friend Finn, in the forest.

Emily Downe | The Redness of Red – What does it mean to be conscious in a world that is becoming increasingly artificially intelligent? Can machines really see? Based on an interview with a professor in artificial intelligence, this short experimental documentary uses analog techniques to explore the human tendency to anthropomorphise simple drawings, and how we might do the same to machines.

Rajee Samarasinghe | FOREIGN QUARTERS – The condition of distance, genetic to the ethnographic image, traces the elusive qualities of my mother’s past and persona as a woman of partial Chinese heritage.

Finley King Dear K – A 1950’s couple is remembered through the objects they left behind.

Charles de Agustin | Buscando – Buscando (Searching) tells the story of a man approaching his 30s who is frustrated with his love life and the state of romance in the age of social media.

Tiffany Deater | Kansas Ice Storm –  A visual essay that explores existence, longing, and the limits of human knowledge.

Kyle Petty | Returning The Bees –  An urban beekeeper’s dream comes true: wild honeybees are returned to their hive in a city water meter, where they are allowed to thrive among the sprawl of Los Angeles. A backwards vision of an alternative ecology built from the footage of its own undoing. A science fiction ethnography.

Giovanna Chesler | The Pick Up – Melanie, a teen resentful of her divorcing parents and craving independence, doesn’t like surprises. When Mom picks her up from swim practice and their trip gets derailed by a flat tire and a stranger, Melanie finds herself choosing a new road.

Rajae Bouardi | Don’t Forget Me  Don’t Forget Me follows three Moroccan families with children on the autism spectrum whose parents are struggling to teach them without any help from the government. Autistic kids in Morocco do not have a right to go to school, and when parents are able to find a classroom where their child is accepted, it is up to them to pay for it. The documentary was inspired by Jackie Spinner’s two sons she adopted from Morocco when they were infants. The boys also are autistic and now living in the United States. Spinner, a journalist and former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post, returned to Morocco with her sons in 2017 essentially to answer the question: What might have happened if they had stayed?

Peter Bo Rappmund & Adam R. Levine | Communion Los Angeles – Communion Los Angeles traces California’s oldest freeway as it courses from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, defining and dividing the communities it is designed to serve. Viewing the 35-miles of blacktop as both infrastructure and public architecture, this equinoctial journey highlights dichotomies of mobility, technology and urban space.

Stacey Larkins | Jabari Keating – Upon making a life altering decision, Jabari Keating is a candid first person narrative film that explores his personal reflections, life experiences and trials and tribulations as an African American in present day America.

Thomas Nicols & Andrew Gleason | Irreparable – Following a devastating loss, a couple attempts to pick up the pieces.

Adriene Jenik | “The Sky is Falling…” – In “The Sky is Falling” director, Adriene Jenik, physically translates a contested number – the number of civilians killed as a result of drone strikes by the US military.