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CARBONDALE — Filmmakers and artists whose works touch on many genres will serve as jurors at this month’s Big Muddy Film Festival.

Kamau Bilal, Cathy Lee Crane and Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga are the judges for this year’s festival, which runs Feb. 18 to 24 at The Varsity Center and various other locations in Carbondale. Now in its 41st year, the event is one of the oldest film festivals affiliated with a university in the nation and will feature 98 films in four categories: animation, documentary, experimental and narrative. Each of the jurors will also present their work during the festival.

“We are exceptionally fortunate to be able to welcome such amazing filmmakers and artists to Carbondale as we have found with Crane, Bilal and Zúñiga,” said Sarah Lewison, an associate professor in the Radio, Television, and Digital Media program, who is faculty adviser and executive director for the festival. “Beyond the many accolades they are receiving nationally and internationally for their divergent work, each of them has a profoundly humanitarian vision that is expressed through the stories they tell.”

Bilal, an assistant teaching professor of film studies at the University of Missouri and a St. Louis native, was named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2018 by Filmmaker Magazine.

His poignant short film “Baby Brother” had its world premiere at Sundance in 2018 and was one of seven short films to participate in the Sundance Short Film Theatrical Tour, where it was shown in four countries and more than 70 cities. He also has awar-winning directing and editing credits.

Crane is an associate professor in media arts, sciences and studies at Ithaca College. Her 2017 feature film, “The Manhattan Front” looks at how New York City was involved in World War I during a period of U.S. neutrality.

Her dreamlike and incisive films have been shown worldwide and she also has music videos and installations to her credit. Her short films have been featured in an “American Originals Now” series at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and she is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film-Video recipient.

Zuñiga is an associate professor in the film and media studies department at City University of New York Hunter College. Zuñiga’s animation, VR and interactive works aim to “establish dialogue in public spaces.”

His work has been shown in galleries, festivals and museums throughout the world, including New York, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Russia and Brazil. His numerous awards include the 2013 HIAP Artist in Residence in Helsinki, Finland.

Also at this year's festival

There are 14 entries in this year’s John Michaels Film Award competition. The category honors the late John Michaels, a cinema student in the 1980s who earned his master of fine arts degree at SIU Carbondale and who was involved in community organizing and activism before he died of brain cancer.

The category honors all genres of films that “create inspiring stories about the struggles for social justice, local and throughout the world.”

Schedule details are available at This year's venues include:

  • Varsity Center, 418 S. Illinois Ave.
  • SIU Carbondale Morris Library John C. Guyon Auditorium.
  • Carbondale Community Arts, 304 W. Walnut St.
  • Cristaudo’s, 209 S. Illinois Ave.
  • Flyover Infoshop, 214 N. Washington St.
  • Global Gourmet, 102 E. Jackson St.
  • Hangar 9, 511 S. Illinois Ave.
  • WDBX Radio, 224 N. Washington, St.

The opening reception is at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at The Varsity. A closing reception celebrating the festival, which will include showing kids’ films and the “Best of the Fest” is at 6 p.m. Feb. 24, also at The Varsity.

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