ISU Students Manage First Annual Foxtail Film Festival


The Foxtail Film Festival began on Thursday night and concluded Saturday night, featuring workshops, Illinois State University student films, and other student films submitted from across the country for consideration in the competition. While board members oversaw the creation of the Foxtail Film Festival, the event was in part led by the students at Illinois State University’s Film Festival Curation and Management course.

Staff Contributors Ella Walker and Justin Owens had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the creator and director of the Foxtail Film Festival, Dr. Andrew Ventimiglia. Ventimiglia realized that there wasn’t really a film festival in the central Illinois region that showcased college students’ talents. In his interview he said “When I was hired at ISU in 2019, I’ve had a little experience with film festivals while doing my masters, so we applied for some money and talked to the Normal Theatre uptown. When Covid hit in 2020 everything stopped for a while but as soon as we had a live audience, we set things in motion again. It’s all coming together this year.” The thing that is unique about this specific festival is that it is student run. Unlike other school festivals this one is completely run by students.

College upperclassman and master’s students in COM354: Film Festival Management, coordinated, directed, and picked out the films showcased during the festival. Dr. Ventimiglia said in the first semester of the class students learn the ins and outs of film festivals and then begin deciding which films make it to the festival. Spring semester is spent solely on curating the festival in the most productive way possible. Students then showcase their year-long work at the three-day festival.

Saturday night’s competition featured films created by high school and college students from across North America. After a showing of the films, attending film makers answered audience questions and reflected on their experiences as young creators. “I was inspired to pursue filmmaking because of the creative output it has for me,” said Zaknafein Luken. Luken is the creator of featured films Delivery, The Plan, and Hate Is Not Welcome Here.  “I can tell any story; however, I want. It’s an art form that everyone loves, so to be a part of that is a dream come true for me,” said Luken. His short film comedy The Plan went on to win best college/university narrative film later that night.