The Big Muddy Film Festival, based at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has become one of the longest running student organized film festivals in the world. The festivals is focused on community, accessability, social justice, and the environment.

The festival occurs annually in late February, and takes place in the community of Carbondale, Illinois, which is situated within the watershed of the Big Muddy River and a region known for the beautiful Shawnee National Forest. Films featured represent all genres and are submitted from all corners of the globe.

The festival provides cash awards to the best works in competition in the categories of experimental, documentary, narrative, animation, and smart phone film.

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, Tomonari Nishikawa, Anna Margarita Albelo, Ben Kalina and Alrick Brown.

A panel of local activists awards The John Michaels Memorial Film Award, which honors films as activism that address themes of peace, justice, community action, human rights, and environmental conservation.

Also awarded is the Mike Covell Award, named after the man who helped found The Big Muddy Film Festival. This award honors filmmakers who have roots in Southern Illinois and is given to an alumni of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. If a notable alumni work is not selected into the festival, then it will be awarded to an alumni of any Southern Illinois region college or university.

This year, the Big Muddy Film Festival is looking for shorter films - under 50 minutes- any style, content, and genre. The Festival is organized into the categories of experimental, narrative, documentary, animation, and smart phone cinema.

Works must be in English or with English subtitles. All films should have been completed within two years from the date when submissions open for the current festival. Works that have been previously submitted to the Festival are not eligible.

Accepted formats for submission include online screeners or .MOV Quicktime.
.MOV Quicktime will be required for screening in the Festival.

Each work submitted should be accompanied by an entry form and fee. Multiple submissions are welcome. If you wish to submit more than one film, please use separate entry forms.

Submission fee waivers may be offered in certain limited circumstances where paying the submission fee is of significant difficulty. In order to be considered for a waiver, send a screener of your full film as well as your reasons for needing a waiver to

Overall Rating
  • Amanda Madden

    Great festival - I really enjoyed being part of it! I saw so many wonderful experimental films and was honored to have my film included in such a beautiful collection.

    April 2021
  • A very well-run festival. Good, clear communication, good networking opportunities (this year, online of course), and a really eclectic selection of films on a variety of topics. Very happy to have been selected to screen with these other great films!

    March 2021
  • Nicolas Pernot

    As the world of shorts films has become so academic, it's very nice -essential, actually- to have a place like Big Muddy where you can still be surprised by what you're seeing. Thank you to all the crew!

    March 2021
  • Marc Adi

    Very nice festival with a atypic and generous selection !

    March 2021
  • I screened my 16mm film GLUGGA & the folks at Big Muddy were a fantastic & enthusiastic group of people to work with:

    March 2021