SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Dr. Angela J. Aguayo's teaching, research and media practice reflect a strong interdisciplinary focus on digital documentary studies and production, rhetoric, critical and cultural studies. She has published book chapters and essays focused on the civic potential of the documentary genre to engage the process of social change. Angela also produces activist documentary video shorts utilized in local political struggles which have screened at various festivals including the Cinematexas International Film Festival, Spark Film Festival and the New York Underground Film Festival. Her 778 Bullets (2010) will be featured in this year’s EVFF.

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan (Between Two Rivers) are artists and filmmakers based in Manchester, UK. Their collaborative work explores the relationship between the natural world and our multifaceted cultural histories. Between Two Rivers is their debut feature-length documentary, after directing a number of award-winning shorts, including American Water, which was selected for the BFI London Film Festival 2011, and Encounters Film Festival 2012. They recently completed a trilogy of films centered on the writings of the 19th century artist- naturalist John James Audubon. Their documentary The Reapers was awarded best experimental film at the 2009 London Short Film Festival, and in 2010 the festival held a retrospective screening of their work. Other recent film festivals and group exhibitions include Documenta, Madrid; Practical Truths, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Darwin's Eye, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art (INHA), Paris; Lines of Desire, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown; Art, Science & the Origin of Species, Ohio State University, Columbus, USA; The New York Film Festival; 3rd Beijing Independent Film Festival, Songzhuang, China; Voices From The Water, Bangalore, India. Between Two Rivers has garnered a number of awards, including Best Film and the Audience Choice Award, Big Muddy Film Festival 2012, Carbondale, Illinois; Best Film, River's Edge International Film Festival 2012, Paducah, Kentucky and Best Documentary, Document.Art International Film Festival 2012, Pitesti City, Romania.

Mr. Cameron Craig is currently a Geographer/Climatologist in the Department of Geology/Geography at Eastern Illinois University. He currently oversees students in the broadcast meteorology minor and collaborates with WEIU-TV's Emmy Award Winning NewsWatch as meteorological consultant allowing student forecasters to have an immediate resource for meteorological inquiries and severe weather events. Mr. Craig is also the founder and director of the EIU WeatherCenter that provides meteorological and climatological data to the public, researchers, and students and a wide-ranging documentary filmmaker. One episode of his Expedition Nature’s Realm (2007) will be featured in this year’s EVFF.

Stace England and The Salt Kings live near the village of Cobden in southern Illinois in the region known as “Little Egypt.”  They have pioneered the unusual and intriguing genre known as historical concept music, releasing critically acclaimed albums about Cairo, Illinois, “The Old Slave House” or Hickory Hill near Equality, Illinois and obscure, Southern Illinois born filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.  Their new album, America, Illinois is based in and around the tiny village of America in Pulaski County and features film of deep Southern Illinois in their live performances.   England was producer for the feature documentary film Confidence Man, The Hugh DeNeal Story.

Dr. Gary Fritz is a professor of biology and the director of EIU’s biology department's Biotechnology Center.  His research interests are broad, and he has published papers in ecology, taxonomy, medical entomology, and genetics, including such taxa as frogs, bats, crickets, mosquitoes and mites.  His research has focused primarily on the population dynamics, genetics, and evolutionary biology of insects that affect the health of humans and other animals.  He is currently investigating the genetic differentiation and ecology of malaria mosquitoes in Bolivia under a grant from the National Institutes of Health. His documentary, Piedra Roja (2011) is featured in this year’s EVFF.

Dann Gire, a graduate of both Charleston High School and Eastern Illinois University, serves as the president and founding director of the Chicago Film Critics Association and sits on the board of directors for the Chicago Headline Club. He was named the 2011 Journalism Alumnus of the Year at EIU. In 2013, Gire was honored as a Friend to Scholastic Journalism by the Illinois Journalism Education Association and the National Journalism Education Association. He has won Chicago's prestigious Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in Arts Criticism eight times.

Gire has taught journalism classes at Aurora University 2008-2010, and classes in drama, mass com, film literature, novels & short stories, feature writing and intro to journalism at William Rainey Harper College (1984-2006). Gire is married to the former Peggy Burke, also a graduate of Charleston High School and EIU. They have two daughters: Lauren Elaine Taylor, currently appearing as Marlene Dietrich in Barry Manilow's new musical "Harmony," and Morgan Gire, a freelance stage manager working for Chicago's Straw Dog Theater.

Dr. David Gracon completed his Ph.D. in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon in the fall of 2010. He recently completed his first feature length documentary video titled: Walls of Sound: A Look Inside The House of Records (63 min, 2012), which is a collection of oral histories regarding the House of Records, an independent record store based in Eugene, Oregon (http://houseofrecords.wordpress.com/).  He took this film on tour in the Pacific Northwest in October, 2012 and is currently screening it at film festivals, community art spaces and libraries.  Walls of Sound will be featured in this year’s EVFF.

Filmmaker, potter, sculptor, Dan Johnson, served as editor and cinematographer on the feature documentary, Confidence Man- The Hugh DeNeal Story, which closes EVFF 2013 on Saturday, November 9th.  In 2009 he directed the dramatic feature, Under These Same Stars- the Celadon Affair.  In 2012 he wrote and directed the dramatic short, Our Foibles Ritual.  Currently he is putting the finishing touches on the music documentary, The Adventures of Robert Russell’s Blues, which is due out in the winter of 2013.  Dan also shot and edited video elements which will be featured during Stace England & the Salt King’s concert performance at EVFF 2013. 

Film critic Chuck Koplinski has been participating in the EVFF since it inception in 2004.  Having studied cinema at Columbia College in Chicago, he's been reviewing films for 20 years for Central Illinois publications including the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and Springfield’s Illinois Times.  A member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Chicago Film Critic's Association he has a weekly film segment on WCIA-TV Channel and MIX 94.5 FM.

Musician, actor and filmmaker, Bob Streit has over 20 years of stage and screen experience.  His directorial debut-- the feature documentary, Confidence Man, on the life art and legal troubles of Woodbox Gang founder, Hugh DeNeal-- brings him to EVFF 2013.  Previously, Confidence Man was featured at the St. Louis International Film Festival where it was given a concert screening at the historic Wildey Theatre in 2011.  In 2012 Confidence Man was a finalist in the Best Impact of Music in a Documentary category at the Park City Film Music Festival.  This spring he played Ebb in the dramatic short, Perkin’s Coal, by SIU filmmaker, Mike Kartje, and in 2 weeks he will be playing a dirty cop in the dramatic short, Nobody’s Hero, by filmmaker Mike Hulyk also of SIU.  When not acting or working in film, Bob can be found performing original songs and stories from his collection, For My Better Angels, a musical memoir and meditation on the vagaries of marital transition and dating in the digital age.