CARBONDALE — Anyone who’s ever wanted to go to film festival but didn’t want to drive across half the country to get there can just stop complaining now because there’s one in Carbondale.

The 35th annual Big Muddy Film Festival will be at SIU through Sunday with most screenings in the Student Center Auditorium. The festival features national, international and local short and feature-length films. Genres include documentary and animated films and there’s even screening for films by young adults that includes aspiring filmmakers from the region.

Sylvia Dadian, co-director of the festival and a MFA graduate student from St. Louis, said people in the region have an opportunity to see films that are difficult to find anywhere.

“The programming is phenomenal,” Dadian said.

Today’s schedule includes the film, “Empire Builder,” at 5 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The film is directed by SIU alumna Kris Swanberg and tells the story of a Chicago woman must deal with changes in her life including motherhood, a move to Montana and potential infidelity.

There is even a film about the region. The documentary, “Around Crab Orchard,” will screen at 5 p.m. Friday in the Student Center Auditorium. The film explores the wildlife refuge’s past and present while, according to the description on the festival website, “questions the ideal of natural harmony while meditating on the persistence of history, the creation of knowledge, the limits of representation and the commonplace of environmental hazard.”

Michelle Leigh, faculty adviser for the festival and Film Alternatives, said she is always proud that students can organize a film festival every year. While students graduate and the team of organizers is always changing, she said the students remain “committed and dedicated.”

Alexa Nutile, a MFA student from Carbondale, is co-directing the festival for her second year and said the process seems to go smoother with experience, despite having more to do.

“I think I’ve had more responsibilities this year, which feels good,” Nutile said.

Dadian, however, will be graduating soon and is co-directing the festival for the last time. She said the experience of organizing a film festival before even graduating was amazing for her, as was the reward of knowing that she organized something that brought unique films to the region.

Leigh said what the students have been able to put together is not just a festival, but a “service to the community.”



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