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CARBONDALE — Hollywood might have been in the spotlight as the Academy Awards got under way, but the Oscars were not the only film awards given out Sunday.

The 35th annual Big Muddy Film Festival wrapped up another year as organizers of the event recognized the “Best of the Fest” on Sunday at University Museum at SIU.

Silvia Dadian, co-director of the festival, said the festival was a success and the programming seemed to be of interest to the community.

Dadian said opening night was phenomenal and all the screenings were well attended. She said it is encouraging to see how many regulars from the community attend a day at the festival to take in all the films.

“It’s really exciting to see that we have quite a few regulars for the day who just come and watch films.”

Michael Pike of Carbondale is one of those regulars. He has been attending the Big Muddy Film Festival since its beginning.

An obvious film fan, Pike said it’s the festival’s lineup that brings him back year-after-year.

“It’s just unique to see films that you wouldn’t see in most other places,” said Pike. “I like the experimental films because it’s something out of the mainstream and unique to this festival.”

Michelle Leigh, faculty adviser for the festival, said in her four-year involvement with the festival, it seems to get better every year.

She said this year’s festival had an amazing lineup of films, jurors and non-competition films.

In her role as faculty advisor, Leigh said she travels frequently and finds people everywhere recognize the Big Muddy Film Festival or have submitted their work to it.

“It’s one of those hidden gems… it’s actually pretty amazing that in the middle of Carbondale, in the middle of Southern Illinois there’s this amazing international film festival that’s been going on for 35 years,” Leigh said. “Hopefully we’ll have another 35.”

The 35th Big Muddy Film Festival Best of the Fest are:

• Best Narrative: Caterwaul

• Best Experimental: Return to the World of Dance

• Best Documentary: Directing Dissent

• Best Animation: Feral

• Audience Choice Award: Ninah’s Dowry

• Honor Mentions: Yucca Mountain Talley, Por Dinero, Free Market Space, Around Crab Orchard and Jerry and Me.

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