Student’s Film Selected for Two International Festivals

Joe Romano ’23 created the short film “Emetophobia” for a film studies class at Muhlenberg.

By: Grace Oddo '22  Tuesday, November 23, 2021 03:48 PM

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Joe Romano 23, a media & communication and film studies double major and documentary storymaking minor, has been selected for two international film festivals that took place this month. His short film Emetophobia was screened at the 33 Girona Film Festival in Girona, Spain, and the BJX Bajío International Film Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico. He was also nominated for the Yes, Let’s Make a Movie! Film Festival in Montréal, Canada. 

“It’s hard to grasp that my film was shown in front of big audiences,” Romano says. “It’s mind-blowing.”

Emetophobia is a product of David Romberg’s Documentary/Fiction Hybrids course, which Romano took while studying remotely this past spring. For the final project, his assignment was to create a “docufiction” film. Also known as a hybrid film, this medium combines elements of fiction with elements of a documentary in order to tell a story. Romano wanted to tell the story of his struggles with emetophobia—a deep-seated fear of vomiting—but in a visually unique way. 

While sitting in his bedroom in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, he started out by experimenting with household objects: balloons, food coloring and different lighting fixtures. This eventually morphed into what would become Emetophobia, or as Romano calls it, “a visual representation of the anxiety attack that goes on whenever I get into that zone.” 

David Romberg, assistant professor of film studies and media & communication, was impressed with Romano’s rough cut immediately. With Romberg’s encouragement, Romano decided to submit the film to various film festivals around the world. This past summer, in addition to working on campus as a photographer with the Office of Communications, Romano spent time polishing his film, researching festivals and consulting with Romberg for advice. 

Although Romano wishes he could have been at the festivals in person, knowing that international audiences saw his film is a riveting feeling. “It’s kind of a motivation booster,” Romano says. “It’s confirmation that hey, I can actually do this.”