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Several film lovers came to Perryville this weekend for the Second Annual 573 Film Festival.

The 573 Film Festival is a presentation of independent films, shorts, trailers, documentaries, TV pilots, and experimental films from around the region. The film festival is put on by independent filmmakers.

This year’s festival began Friday and wrapped up Sunday. Over the course of three days, about 60 films were shown, talks were given, and awards were handed out to the best films in different categories. The festival’s signature award was the 573 Mucky Award. The glass spire award was presented in a pail filled with the mucky water of the Mississippi River.

One of the only documentaries that was featured during this year’s three-day festival was an anticipated film that featured a family from Farmington, “A Blue Ribbon Days Homecoming.”  

In this film, Albert Cleve, a Farmington native, returns home with his team of Percheron draft horses after winning the World Championship Six Horse Pitch competition. Cleve, along with his wife Karen, owns the world-class show horses and the film focuses on their efforts to show off the horses in the annual Country Days parade. When the parade is canceled due to rain, the plan changes, and the Cleves wind up having an impromptu parade of their own in the parking lot of the Memorial United Methodist Church in Farmington.     

The film was directed by Christopher Greenwood, a native of Cape Girardeau, who currently resides in Nashville.

Greenwood has been in the filmmaking business for about 40 years directing commercials, feature films, and faith-based productions. He also said that he has worked in the draft horse, rodeo, and Western lifestyle businesses for the last seven years writing and producing stories for a national television network.

Another film that was shown and received high praise was a film about the struggles faced by soldiers returning home from war after experiencing traumatic circumstances. The film “Tango Down” focuses on two marines, one male and one female, who returned home after a firefight that led to the death of an enemy prisoner that the two soldiers had in their custody. Questions surrounding the death of their prisoner appeared to chip away at their psyches and ultimately led to an intense fist fight between the two soldiers.

"Tango Down" was directed by Robert Christiansen and was a collaborative effort that brought military veteran together to create something that would give insight to the hurdles that must be overcome after leaving a war zone.

The film received the 573 Mucky Award for Best Short Film. Accepting the award on behalf of the production was the film’s Co-Executive Producer Dennis Badurina.

“The main thrust was just getting veterans involved in filmmaking, giving them something creative to do,” said Badurina. “Twenty-two veterans a day, right now, commit suicide and it's PTSD issues.

“A creative outlet and help for veterans are really what this is all about,” said Badurina.

Badurina had the producers and some of the actors from Los Angeles on speaker phone while accepting the award and they were very excited to hear of the accolade.

Another film to win the coveted 573 Mucky Award was an experimental film called “Yellow,” which received the award for Best Local Film.

The film tells the story of St. Louis man who lost his family in a car accident and decides to run away from it all using his yellow Honda motorcycle given to him by his grandfather. Throughout the film, no faces are shown but the story remains captivating and achieves its emotional delivery through vivid imagery and voices of the characters.

“Yellow” was written and directed by Cape Girardeau native, Scott Phegley who said that he always wanted to get into filmmaking. After turning 50 years old, Phegley said he decided to put this film together before he got older and might regret never getting into the art of filmmaking.

The film festival also featured an advanced screening of “Interviewing Monsters.” The film was directed by Tom Smugala of 573 Magazine and starred Tom Green and Les Stroud. Also in the film was A.J. Koehler. She not only played two characters in the film but was the assistant director. Additionally, Koehler was one of the main organizers of the 573 Film Festival.

“Interviewing Monsters” features a by-the-book forest ranger, Billy Teal, played by Green, who is dead set on preventing Cory Mathis, played by Stroud from the TV series "Survivorman," from discovering the truth about the Mark Twain forest. Mathis, a respected college professor, claims a mythical forest creature killed his wife transforming him into a man haunted by obsession and revenge. Mathis partners up with legendary Bigfoot hunter Fran Andersen, played by Stacy Brown Jr., who is out to collect the Nat Geo $10 million bounty for the capture of the creature, but Ranger Teal, a covert government agency and a serial hoaxer, played by Rick Dyer, have other plans.

On Sunday, a red carpet event was held for the children who participated in the Kid’s Film Workshop. The young filmmakers created short films during the workshop on Saturday and the films were screened the next day. Awards were given to the most outstanding student films.

Overall, the second year of the 573 Film Festival was a success and the organizers said they very much look forward to what filmmakers in the area have in store for next year.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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