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Phenom Film Festival Gives Snapshot of Student Talent

April 27, 2023

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The third annual Phenom Film Festival will shine a spotlight on the collaborative work of film and theatre students at Illinois Wesleyan University on Monday, May 1 — and a Titan celebrity will make an appearance.

Formerly named the Guerilla Film Festival, the showcase will begin at 7 p.m. Monday at Hansen Student Center with popcorn and snacks provided. The campus community is invited to join the School of Theatre Arts in celebrating the creation of five original short films, each a collaborative effort by students from screenwriting, film production and acting classes. Comedy sketches and final projects from a videography class will also be presented.

Adding to the excitement this year, Academy Award-nominated actor and IWU alum Richard Jenkins '69 will be in attendance during a visit to campus.

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Tom Quinn, who guides students through the filmmaking process, said the creative and logistical work behind the projects takes a year to complete. From screenwriting, set design, props, costumes, casting and directing, the effort that goes into the festival each year “is immensely ambitious.”

“This is a diverse collection of passion projects and they’re all rolling out at once. It is truly a collaborative, community effort,” said Quinn.

He added that the film festival is quickly becoming a central fixture in the year for students involved in acting and film studies classes. 

“For the sake of all those underclassmen who have watched these films in amazement, anxiously waiting to make their own festival films in the future, I hope it continues forever,” said Quinn. 

The original short films to be presented at the Phenom Film Festival are as follows: 

  • Hand Me Down - Danny finds himself home alone with a gifted antique dresser. Through unraveling the dresser’s sinister qualities, Danny and his friends uncover disturbing details of a past feud involving his grandfather and his boss.
  • High Standards - A group of best friends swore off dating, vowing to put friendship first. But when Becca brings home her new boyfriend Chad, the friends must put him through a series of tests to find out if he meets their high standards.
  • Suspicions - Following the story of young love and loss, Rose and Meggy learn what it means to have a relationship that is built on trust and what happens when that foundation falls apart through an overheard conversation.
  • Queen of Wands - Greenville High School’s star quarterback clashes with a teenage witch after she predicts the team’s humiliation in the upcoming big game.
  • Driving Away - Forced to move away from his beloved Maeve for a promising new job, Sean is so torn that his journey fractures into two very different realities.

By MJ Soria ‘25