The 39th Annual Big Muddy Film Festival is proud to announce the official jury for the 2017 festival. Prizes will be awarded in each of the festival’s categories including Animation, Documentary, Experimental and Narrative. The winning films will be announced at the Big Muddy Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the end of the festival.
Tomás Pichardo-Espaillat is a Dominican animator and storyteller. He is also a talented illustrator that is able to creatively manipulate multiple mediums in order to portray the client’s vision to target audiences.
Tomás is a graduate of the Parsons New School of Design and a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the prestigious Altos de Chavón School of Design. He has exhibited his work at acclaimed shows in New York, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Milan, Lisbon and the Dominican Republic and is the humble recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work.
Tomás eventually was granted a full year scholarship at Fabrica, Benetton’s Design Research Center in Treviso, Italy. At Fabrica, Tomás provided cutting-edge animations and illustration services to clients such as the UN, TED-Ed, The School of Life, Pictoplasma and other brands and organizations. His work has hints of magic-realism, evoking the colorful, surreal and sometimes disorienting experience of growing up in the Caribbean.
Alrick Brown is Assistant Professor of Undergraduate Film and Television. An award winning writer and director, Alrick graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and a Masters of Education. He received his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Education is Alrick’s first calling, but he found his medium, film, after visiting the slave castle of Elmina, in Ghana, during a two-year tour with the Peace Corps in Cote d’Ivoire. The interactions with the people of his village, and his overall experiences in West Africa, informed his creative expression. An expression first fostered by his birth in Kingston, Jamaica and migration to, and upbringing in Plainfield, New Jersey. An activist and highly sought public speaker, Alrick’s commitment to social, political and economic justice, and revealing the heart of the world through the craft of storytelling is what draws audiences and peers to his work. Alrick’s cinematic reach includes credits on the small screen as director, producer and writer on a variety of projects – ABC’s Final Witness, ESPN’s short doc series Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joint, and Investigative Discoveries Emmy-Award winning series A Crime Two Remember. His published work has appeared in the Huffington Post as well as the New Jersey English Journal.
Alrick’s collective body of film work has screened in numerous festivals worldwide, earning several honors. Among them is the HBO Life Through Your Lens Emerging Filmmaker Award for the critically acclaimed documentary Death of Two Sons. Alrick’s first feature, Kinyarwanda, was recipient of the prestigious Sundance World Cinema Audience Award. He has previously taught undergraduate courses on the African American image in cinema at Rutgers University, film production at The Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, and at Goddard College where he was a faculty advisor for the Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program.
Ines Sommer is a filmmaker, curator and educator who has directed and produced experimental films and documentaries about the arts, women’s issues, direct democracy, human rights, and other topics. In 2016, Ines was featured in the annual FILM 50 – Chicago’s Screen Gems edition, published by Chicago’s alt weekly New City.
Ines’ recent documentary COUNT ME IN highlights an innovative experiment in direct democracy that gives ordinary Chicagoans direct say over local public projects and monies. COUNT ME IN was supported in part by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and aired on PBS stations across the nation as well as the PBS WORLD Channel in Fall 2016. Ines co-directed and shot the human rights documentary BENEATH THE BLINDFOLD, which was a Chicago Reader pick for Best Political Documentary of 2012.
Ines frequently collaborates with other filmmakers as a cinematographer and has shot projects for major Chicago documentary companies Kartemquin Films, Kindling Group, and many others. Besides producing documentaries and commissioned projects through her company Sommer Filmworks, Ines has had a longstanding interest in engaging audiences with alternative cinema and advocating for independent filmmakers. She has held positions as a film programmer and film festival director, is the co-founder of the non-profit Percolator Films, and serves on the Board of Directors of IFP Chicago. Ines holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University, where she is the Associate Director of the MFA in Documentary Media program in the Radio/TV/Film Department.
Keep checking back for more information as we’ll keep updating this page as the festival gets closer, but check out some of our previous jurors below. They’re pretty cool people!