The Embarras Valley Film Festival, taking place Nov. 2-4 on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, celebrates its 12th year with a focus on civil rights in Illinois.
The theme, "For All the World to See II: Film Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights," expands on the “Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” exhibit and program in Eastern's Booth Library. Admission to all festival events is free and open to the public.
The festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, with the screening of “Chi-Raq” and an introduction by Kevin Anderson, a political science professor and film studies minor faculty member, in the Coleman Hall Auditorium, Room 1255.
As a modern-day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes, “Chi-Raq” is set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago. The murder of a child by a stray bullet prompts a group of women led by Lysistrata to organize against the on-going violence in Chicago's Southside, creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.
Anderson teaches courses in American government, political theory and African-American politics. He focuses his research on American and African-American political thought, seeking to understand the tensions between individual liberty, collective good and American political values.
His first book, “Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African-American Politics” (University of Arkansas Press 2010), explores this theme within African-American politics. His second book, “State Voting Laws in America: Historical Statutes and Their Modern Implications” (Palgrave Pivot 2015), is co-authored with professors Michael A. Smith of Emporia State University and Chapman Rackaway of Fort Hays State University. This book explores the history and evolving politics surrounding the right to vote in American politics.
Anderson has also published book chapters on media and politics and written a book chapter on working in the 1992 presidential campaign. His current long-term research project explores the consequences of integration and incorporation in African-American politics.
Festival activities will continue Thursday, Nov. 3, when 25 official selections from the Student-Produced Short Film Contest will be shown from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Coleman Auditorium. The three winning films will be announced during the screening. More than 190 entries were submitted for this year’s contest from student filmmakers throughout the U.S.
On Friday, Nov. 4, EVFF coordinators will introduce “Between Two Rivers” at 4 p.m. in Coleman Auditorium. Filmed, edited and directed by artists Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan, “Between Two Rivers” offers a remarkable insight into a community struggling with severe economic, social and environmental pressures. With lyrical and striking contrasts between the past and present, the film explores the multiple factors that have led to Cairo, Illinois’ rise and fall, from booming river-trade and juke-joints to mob-lynchings and race riots that tore apart the community. “Between Two Rivers” illustrates the long-term impact of the violent civil unrest, economic boycotts, curfews and martial law that so deeply divided the community.
The EVFF is a yearly event honoring a person or theme relevant to the Embarras Valley, which encompasses much of east-central Illinois. Past festivals have honored Gregg Toland, William Phipps, Burl Ives, James Jones, Joan Allen, Abraham Lincoln, Gene Hackman, silent films, films for and about children and young adults, Dick Van Dyke, Richard Pryor and documentary films.
The mission of the festival is to encourage broader appreciation for and study of film as a potent vehicle for human expression and communication through the exploration of cinematic arts involving people from Illinois and alumni of EIU.
This year’s festival is sponsored in part by the City of Charleston Tourism Fund. Other festival co-sponsors are the Coles County Arts Council and Booth Library.