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The Art of Film

After the hubbub has died down and the flashbulbs have ceased their popping at Utah's Sundance Film Festival, independent filmmakers head to Carbondale for the Big Muddy Film Festival.

One of the oldest community-run film festivals in the country, first organized in 1979, Big Muddy screens dozens of films over a ten-day period at various venues in southern Illinois and western Kentucky.

The festival eschews the celebrity status that permeates festivals like Sundance, opting instead to focus on experimental and documentary films. But Big Muddy has drawn its own share of big names, with photographer Robert Frank and the iconic director Jim Jarmusch serving as judges in past competitions.

And while audiences are enjoying these hard-to-find movies, filmmakers are competing for monetary prizes, including the John Michaels Memorial Film Award given to films that promote human rights, peace and justice topics, or environmental issues.

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Check out some of the other film festivals that happen in Illinois every year: the International Children's Film Festival, the Festival for Cinema of the Deaf and the Latino Film Festival, all taking place in Chicago, and the Beyond Normal Film Fest in the city of Normal.

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Explore the Big Muddy Film Festival with some of its founders and friends.


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A still from an experimental film.

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A still from a live-action film.


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