PROVO, Utah – A new comedy by Brigham Young University theatre and media arts professor Tom Russell was recently named runner-up in the feature film category at the Mendocino Film Festival in Mendocino, Calif. 
 
Russell’s film, Mr. Dungbeetle, was one of more than 60 independent films shown at the four-day festival. 
 
After submitting a rough version of the film to judges in April, Russell learned his film had been accepted, and so he had to quickly finish editing with his crew. Most of his crew members were current or recently graduated BYU film students, as well as some fellow faculty members. 
 
“Miraculously, we got it color-corrected in time to take it to the festival. It turned out really well,” he said. 
 
The film’s plot centers around five schizophrenic patients who escape from a mental facility and the doctor who attempts to bring them back. When the patients find a makeshift mountain outpost and begin a miraculous recovery, 
the doctor steps back to allow the healing to continue. 
 
Mr. Dungbeetle is a comedy designed to “take something [schizophrenia] that is about as mysterious as death or God and to explore it,” Russell said. 
 
As the plot evolves, Phillip, one of the patients, discovers he has the capacity to heal people. Phillip attributes his talent to the dungbeetle, an insect worshipped in ancient Egypt and remembered for its supposed selfless ability to take on others’ burdens. 
 
“I want to help people understand that if they will lose themselves in other people and do the things that [are] seemingly senseless or extraordinarily difficult, there is a healing and rebirth available to people who endure,” Russell said.