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Illinois State University Students Curate Film Festival

Written by on October 11, 2022

NORMAL, Ill. – A film festival is coming to the Normal Theater this spring that will give Illinois State University students experience in filmmaking. 

The Foxtail Film Festival is now accepting submissions to be curated by ISU students for class credit. The course Film Festival Management and Curation sees students view and select movies given by participants leading up to the festival in April where the films are shown at the local cinema.  

The deadline for submission is January 23, 2023 with both an early deadline on November 18, 2022 and a late deadline on March 3, 2023. The entries must be short films with a run time of 10 minutes or less. The three categories will be accepted are animation, narrative and documentary. After all submissions have been judged, the festival will take place April 27 until April 30 of next year. 

The person behind the festival is one of ISU’s own Professor Andrew Ventimiglia. Ventimiglia noticed the budding culture of filmmaking surrounding Bloomington/Normal. Looking at the tools he had to work with, the professor decided to take a big step with fusing the school’s  hunger for opportunity within the student body and a celebrated town landmark. 

”There’s a lot of activity around filmmaking in central Illinois and the area,” said Ventimiglia. “We have an incredible historic theater in Uptown Normal with the Normal Theater. It just seemed like a really good venue to have something to showcase, particularly local filmmakers, although we do accept submissions from all over the world.”

Experience from the past played a key role in the creation of the Foxtail Film Festival. Years before he was lecturing in class, Ventimiglia was dipping his toes into the film industry. 

“In the past, I’ve worked on other film festivals,” said Ventimiglia. “I was a co-director at the Davis Feminist Film festival when I was a graduate student at the University of California-Davis. We developed a similar course there, where basically, students got guidance on what film festivals were, their economic role and their importance in the industry.”

The festival will be free of charge to those attending the event, an action that was supported by the Town of Normal. The festival was originally going to take place in 2020, but was canceled due to the pandemic. Community played a key role in the formation of the festival through its highs and lows. 

“It really fits with the mission of the Normal Theater to put on something like this,” said Ventimiglia. “They’ve been really supportive, and this kind of thing can’t really happen without community support too.”

Even though there are still weeks to go before the festival’s early bird deadline in November, Ventimiglia knows his students will have to put in time and effort to craft an exceptional film festival. 

“A successful festival will get hundreds of submissions and we don’t know exactly what we’ll see yet this year,” said Ventimiglia. “We already do have submissions, even though it’s well ahead of the deadline. It takes some time ,after all the films get collected, to evaluate them and to evaluate them properly.”