Taz Wilson

Taz Wilson in “Super Predator: Preludes of the Black Fish."

CARBONDALE — A short film by a Southern Illinois University Carbondale student is one of 25 finalists in the 2018 PBS Online Film Festival.

Filmmaker Kelechi Agwuncha originally helmed “Super Predator: Preludes of the Black Fish” as an assignment for SIUC associate professor Hong Zhou’s production class.

The seven-minute short explores the concepts of overconsumption and how people of color navigate prejudice.

Agwuncha, who has been working as a production assistant this summer on an upcoming HBO series, said during a phone interview Wednesday that she conceived of the idea for her film after stumbling upon a photograph by Ren Hang. The image depicted a woman bathing in water with a fish swimming above her head.

“I found that really interesting, how we, typically as humans, we differentiate ourselves (from) animals. So I kind of wanted to deal with that, and also the issue of overconsumption,” Agwuncha said.

The film, shot over the course of two days in various locations around Carbondale, stars Taz Wilson, a recent SIUC graduate. Five other cinema and photography students worked on the film.

Agwuncha said she cast Wilson partly for his dancing ability; the film concludes with an expressive dance. Agwuncha said she gave Wilson minimal direction in the scene.

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“The dancing is almost just a release from all the heaviness that the voiceover is disposing on the audience. ... But it’s still (emblematic of) those layers of historical prejudice and discrimination,” Agwuncha said.

The film was also recently selected as a finalist in the Toronto International Film Festival’s TIFFXInstagram Short Film Festival.

Agwuncha said she likes the creative freedom that comes with short films.

“I like that there’s no rules. If you’re an experimental filmmaker, you don’t have to do something a certain way,” Agwuncha said.

Voting for the PBS Online Film Festival ends this Friday. To vote, visit www.pbs.org/filmfestival.

“I’m really excited. I’m also just really grateful for the opportunity and all the support. Regardless of whether I win or not, I feel like I already won,” Agwuncha said.

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