Big Muddy Film Festival 2014: Coming to Theaters Near You

Big Muddy Film Festival 2014: Coming to Theaters Near You
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Big Muddy Film Festival 33

Who: Film Alternatives
What: Big Muddy Film Festival
When: 2014-02-18 - 2014-02-23
Drinking Buddies, an acclaimed film by SIU alum Joe Swanberg starring Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, J
Leah Williams


A longstanding tradition, the Big Muddy Film Festival, opens this coming week with the fanfare befitting an event that has spanned three decades.

Beginning Tuesday, February 18, movie enthusiasts will be able to hit up viewings of short films, documentaries, and a few screenings that showcase homegrown, regional, and international talent.

“We have a very good selection this year,” said Elisa Herrmann, a visiting professor who is charge of this year’s event.

The thirty-sixth annual festival continues to be one of the oldest film festivals that is affiliated with a university, and this year’s event features forty-one juried films from twelve different countries. Nations whose films are represented at the 2014 Big Muddy Film Festival include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The judges for this year’s event include Eliza Hittman, Julie Perini, and Michael Robinson, and all three filmmakers will offer workshops on campus, providing an opportunity for budding directors and screenwriters to get advice from people in the know.

The opening reception Tuesday will be held in the Student Center International Lounge. A special free screening of Drinking Buddies, a film written and directed by acclaimed SIU alum Joe Swanberg, who graduated from the university in 2003, takes place at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The movie deals with tangled romantic relationships between coworkers at a craft brewery in Chicago, even though the characters are already involved in relationships.

Drinking Buddies stars several big Hollywood names, including Olivia Wilde (House), Anna Kendrick (Twilight), Jake Johnson (New Girl), and Ron Livingston (Office Space). The film has received mostly positive reviews, including a glowing writeup in the New York Times.

“It was a very successful film,” Herrmann said, “so we wanted to show it.”

With most previous Big Muddy Film Festivals, films were grouped and primarily screened in the narrative, animation, experimental, and documentary categories.

The 2014 festival, however, has mainly broken entries from all these categories into general themes and will screen them that way. Films with the theme Coming of Age will screen Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The theme Motherhood takes the screen Thursday, February 20 at 3:30 p.m., while Loss predominates Friday, February 21 at 4 p.m., both in in Morris Library Auditorium. On Saturday, February 22 in in Morris Library Auditorium, entries fitting the themes Nature and Body will screen at 11:30 a.m., followed by Hope and Survival at 1 p.m. and Outliers at 4 p.m.

The juror showcase Watch Me Break It Down: Film and Videos by Julie Perini screens Wednesday, February 19 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium.

A free special screening of the classic movie Animal House takes place Thursday, February 20, at Pagliai’s Pizza on the Strip. The film has connections to Carbondale, as star John Belushi reportedly bought the famous sweatshirt with the word College on it here, where he was visiting his brother Jim, then an SIU student.

Experimental films start off the day Friday, February 21 at 10 a.m. and Michael Robinson’s juror showcase follows at 7 p.m., both at Morris Library Auditorium.

In an event cosponsored by the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois, a special screening of Ines Sommer's Beneath the Blindfold will run Saturday, February 22 at 5 p.m. at Morris Library Auditorium, after which the filmmaker will answer audience questions. A reception for Sommer takes place at 3 p.m. at the Gaia House Interfaith Center. The screening and reception honors the late local peace activist Margie Parker. A two-hour showcase of juror Eliza Hittman’s work closes out the day at 7 p.m. in the Morris Library Auditorium.

On the final day of the Big Muddy Film Festival— Sunday, February 23— John Michael’s special selections start at 9:30 a.m., then a showcase featuring work by SIU faculty will begin at 1 p.m., and both screenings take place in the Student Center Auditorium. A closing reception takes place at 3 p.m. in the Student Center International Lounge, then a screening of the festival’s best films and the festival awards announcements conclude the event at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium.

Herrmann said she believes the Big Muddy Film Festival has become a staple in the community because it provides unique film-viewing opportunities for Southern Illinois.

“I think it’s important because it allows people to see some films that would not normally come around here,” Herrmann said.

For more information, including the complete festival schedule, log on to <>.

who: Film Alternatives

what: Big Muddy Film Festival

where: SIU Student Center, Morris Library, and other locations

when: February 18 through February 23