FIGURE 2-1. Advertisement for the annual Insect Fear Film Festival. The festivals began in 1984 through the efforts of Dr. May Berenbaum and the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Source: May Berenbaum, slide 17.
joined the faculty at UIUC before launching the first annual Insect Fear Film Festival (IFFF) in 1984, with screenings of the films Them! (1954) and Bug (1975). Members of the Entomology Department discussed the films and introduced the audience to some of “the stars.” Her hope was to reach a broader audience; it was, in her words, a “screaming success.”
The IFFF, which has continued for 28 years, now includes an insect petting zoo, face painting, demonstrations, and an art contest for local students. By building each IFFF around a theme, Berenbaum explained, organizers are able to provide new information and activities every year, such as a blood drive in conjunction with a mosquito-themed IFFF (Figure 2-1). The festival has attracted considerable press attention nationally and internationally and has spawned similar film festivals in the United States and beyond.
Each year, Berenbaum chooses the theme and the films, but much of the planning and coordination—such as booking the venue, arranging publicity, and designing and selling t-shirts—is done by the university’s Entomology Graduate Student Association. The students benefit in a number of ways. They develop communication skills with a wide range of audiences, build organizational skills by conducting the annual art contest, gain experience interacting with various media outlets by publicizing the festival, and are able to