“Day One”, a story inspired by AFI student Henry Hughes’ own service in Afghanistan won the BAFTA U.S. Student Film Award at a gala presentation at the Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills on Thursday night.
The jury members included actor Michael Sheen (BAFTA winner, from Wales), BAFTA-nominated director Edgar Wright (from Dorset, England), “Captain Phillips” editor Christopher Rouse (a non-Brit, from Los Angeles), and entertainment journalist Shalini Dore.
Eight short film finalists screened at the Annenberg for an audience of BAFTA members. The audience then cast votes on the spot for the award that went to “Day One.”
“I wish I could spend every evening so enjoyably,” Sheen said. “Eight incredibly diverse, entertaining, challenging, disturbing and beautiful films. The future looks bright.”
With a British organization giving out awards to U.S. students, the universe of eligibility could be confusing. Filmmakers could be American or international students, but must have been studying within the U.S. to qualify. In other words, it is the analog of Gross Domestic Film Product, not Gross “National” Film Product.
BAFTA Los Angeles produces the event with the goal of connecting rising international student filmmakers with experts from UK’s entertainment industry. In addition to the statues, winners get access to BAFTA events across the country to further their networking. “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler is a former finalist for these awards. Annie Silverstein, who swept them last year with “Skunk,” also racked up a win at Cannes in the “Cinefondation” student film division.
“We are deeply committed to celebrating new talent, and supporting those who demonstrate the potential to rise to the very top of our profession,” BAFTA L.A. Chairman Kieran Breen said in advance of the screenings.
For the first time, nominations had come from schools across the country, not just the Los Angeles hotbeds like the AFI and USC. The eight finalists were selected from nominations invited from 89 schools, with each school submitting three of their student films for consideration.