The Big Muddy Film Festival, housed within the Cinema & Photography Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has become one of the best-respected, wholly independent, community-focused film festivals. In its 38th year, Big Muddy is among the oldest student-organized film festivals in the United States.
The Festival provides cash awards to the best works in competition in the categories of experimental, documentary, narrative, and animation. The program is juried by three artists or critics of national and international recognition. Past Jurors have included Barbara Hammer, Naomi Uman, Jim Jarmusch, Kerry Laitala, James Benning, and Sasha Waters-Freyer.
A panel of local activists awards The John Michaels Memorial Film Award, which honors films that address themes of peace, justice, community action, human rights, and environmental conservation.