Students from Occidental College, the University of Southern California, the Ringling College of Art and Design and the University of Texas at Austin won the top awards at the 40th Student Academy Awards on Saturday night, taking home gold medals and qualifying for next year’s Oscars.
In the Foreign Film category, a film from the UK’s National Film and Television School won the top prize.
The Academy announced the 15 winning films in five categories in May, but the student filmmakers didn’t know whether they’d won gold, silver or bronze medals until Saturday night’s ceremony, which was hosted by comedian and 1978 Student Oscar winner Bob Saget at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Writer-director Kimberly Peirce and actors Clark Gregg, Jason Schwartzman and Quvenzhane Wallis presented the awards.
Gold medals carry cash prizes of $5,000, and qualify the winners for the live-action or animated short category at the Oscars. Silver and bronze medals carry prizes of $3,000 and $2,000.
Four schools won for the first time: Occidental won a gold medal, the University of Michigan a silver and Elon University a bronze, while RITS School of the Arts in Brussels won a bronze in the foreign category.
Overall, USC, Ringling and the School of Visual Arts had two winners each, while nine schools had a single winner.
In the Alternative category, which was presented by Saget, Occidental student Rafael Cortina’s “Bottled Up” won the gold medal. Silver and bronze medals went to Perry Janes’ “Zug” and John Mattiuzzi’s “The Compositor.”
Ringing College’s Lindsey St. Pierre and Ashley Graham won gold medals in the animation category for “Dia de los Muertos” (left), bringing up their third co-creator, Kate Reynolds, to accept the awards from Wallis. Silver in the category went to Eusong Lee’s “Will” and Kevin Herron’s “Peck Pocketed.”
David Aristizabal from USC won gold in the documentary category for “A Second Chance” (below), which follows a program that acquires rescue dogs for vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rachel Loube won silver for “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of The New Yorker Cartoonists,” and Daniel Koehler took bronze for “Win or Lose.” This is the first year in which a gold medal qualifies a film for the Documentary Short Subject Oscar. Pierce presented awards in the category.
“Ol’ Daddy,” by University of Texas at Austin’s Brian Schwarz, took the top award in the narrative category, which was handed out by Schwartzman. “Josephine and the Roach” by Jonathan Langager won silver and “Un Mundo para Raul” by Mauro Mueller bronze.
In the foreign film category, which was presented by Gregg, Kristina Yee’s UK film “Miss Todd” (photo at top) won over Talkhon Hamzavi’s “Parvaneh,” from Switzerland, and Wouter Bouvjin’s “Tweesprong” from Belgium.
In her acceptance speech, Yee (pictured with Oscar statue above) pointed out that her movie was "the most American foreign film" to win in the category. The director is from California but attended school in London, where she made her animated film about an early female aviator. The film was also the first animated film to win in the foreign category.
Zemeckis, Lasseter and Docter were featured in a film that screened at the beginning of the ceremony and included a number of past winners speaking about the experience and about their films.
Others in the film included Saget, directors Ken Kwapis and Todd Holland, and documentary filmmaker Lauren Lazin.
The show, and the week of meetings, meals and screenings that preceded it, were produced by Jennifer Todd.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Academy president Hawk Koch pointed out that Student Oscar winners have gone on to receive 46 Academy Award nominations and win eight Oscars.
Several winners have gone on to win Academy Awards in the short film categories, most recently Luke Matheny’s “God of Love.”
Gold Medal: “Bottled Up,” Rafael Cortina, Occidental College
Silver Medal: “Zug,” Perry Janes, University of Michigan
Bronze Medal: “The Compositor,” John Mattiuzzi, School of Visual Arts
Gold Medal: “Dia de los Muertos,” Lindsey St. Pierre and Ashley Graham, Ringling College of Art and Design
Silver Medal: “Will,” Eusong Lee, California Institute of the Arts
Bronze Medal: “Peck Pocketed,” Kevin Herron, Ringling College of Art and Design
Gold Medal: “A Second Chance,” David Aristizabal, University of Southern California
Silver Medal: “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of The New Yorker Cartoonists,” Rachel Loube, School of Visual Arts
Bronze Medal: “Win or Lose,” Daniel Koehler, Elon University
Gold Medal: “Ol’ Daddy,” Brian Schwarz, University of Texas at Austin
Silver Medal: “Josephine and the Roach,” Jonathan Langager, University of Southern California
Bronze Medal: “Un Mundo para Raúl (A World for Raúl),” Mauro Mueller, Columbia University
Gold Medal: “Miss Todd,” Kristina Yee, National Film and Television School, United Kingdom
Silver Medal: “Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland
Bronze Medal: “Tweesprong (Crossroads),” Wouter Bouvijn, RITS School of Arts, Erasmus University College Brussels, Belgium