CARBONDALE — Recent budgetary constraints reducing the Big Muddy Film Festival from 10 to five days have been advantageous to the annual SIU event , which begins Wednesday and runs through Feb. 24.
“The quality and quantity are the same. It’s compacted,” said Michele Torre, a SIU assistant professor in cinema and photography and festival adviser, about the more than 200 submissions in this year’s festival.
A shortened schedule allows greater opportunity for filmmakers to attend with question and answer periods after special screenings and other discussion, said Silvia Dadian who along with Alexa Nutlie, both SIU master of fine arts students in SIU’s media arts program, are directing this year’s festival.
Dadian said a new heavily anticipated addition to this year’s festival is a Young Adult Screening that will feature a selection of films made by middle and high school students.
“Some are local but we have selections from all over the country,” Dadian said, noting the screening will enhance and encourage young budding filmmakers.
Another note of interest that this year’s festival attendees should likely mark is “Around Crab Orchard,” a documentary feature filmed by Sarah Kanouse about the area wildlife refuge which will be shown at 5 p.m. Friday in the Student Center Auditorium.
Kanouse who won a John Michaels Award for her work will be in attendance for the showing,
Dadian said the documentary is produced in much the same style as a 2012 submission, “Between Two Rivers: Cairo, Illinois,” by two British filmmakers that included a wide range of issues both historical and current about the town.
The festival also has an impressive list of judges — Bobby Abate, Jesse McLean and Julie Wyman — who are noted filmmakers.
Abate has had his work shown in the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, The New York Film Festival and the Institutes of Contemporary Art.
McLean is an assistant professor in the Department of Cinema and comparative Literature at the University of Iowa who has several awards for her work including submissions to the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Wyman, an independent filmmaker who is an associate professor of Cinema and Technocultural Studies at the University of California Davis, produced a 2012 documentary “Strong,” about U.S. Olympian weightlifter Cheryl Haworth.
The film festival is a yearly effort undertaken by several graduate and undergraduate SIU students. In addition to gathering submissions, inviting judges and scheduling, there are grants to write and apply for, Torre said.
— SIU’s University Communications contributed to this story.