The Big Muddy Film Festival, based at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has become one of the best-respected, wholly independent, community-focused film festivals. In its 41st year, Big Muddy is one of 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, 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, Honoring Film created in the southern Illinois region.

Accepted Formats:
For pre-viewing: DVD/Blu-Ray or .MOV Quicktime, or online screeners
For The Festival screening: DVD/Blu-Ray or .MOV Quicktime

The Big Muddy Film Festival is looking for films of any style, length, content, and genre. The Festival is organized into the categories of experimental, narrative, documentary, and animation.

Cash prizes are awarded to the best of competition in each category. The John Michaels Film Award continues to recognize and honors films as forms of activism addressing themes of peace, justice, community action, human rights, and environmental conservation.

Each work submitted should be accompanied by an entry form and fee. Please submit only one film for each entry form, and include only one film per screener DVD.

Multiple submissions are welcome. If you wish to submit more than one film, please use separate entry forms and screener DVDs.

Works must be in English or with English subtitles. All films should be completed after J. Works that had been previously submitted to The Big Muddy Film Festival are not eligible.

Please do not mail films in fiber filled envelopes. Remember to label your film(s) with the FilmFreeway ID, director/producer's names, film title, and running time.

Overall Rating
  • Irina Patkanian

    One of rare film festivals that shows complex and original films. Thank you for believing in film as art and act of resistance.

    March 2019
  • Chris Graybill


    August 2018
  • I was not able to attend, but really appreciate the diversity of categories for film and video work and a venue for all of this work in Southern Illinois. The line-up of work being shown was impressive.

    July 2018
  • Alec Gutherz

    Although no one from my film could make it to the festival, we deeply appreciated the opportunity to screen GOD'S COUNTRY at the Big Muddy Film Festival. The communication throughout the process was great and I very much look forward to submitting my next film there and hopefully having the chance to attend. Thank you!

    April 2018
  • Asuka Lin

    I had such a great time in Southern Illinois!!! Thank you to the organizers for being amazing hosts that fed us and drove us around town. Loved every minute of attending and can't wait to submit next year :))

    March 2018