NYU, Berkeley, Ringling College Win Top Student Academy Awards

Two schools from Germany and one from China take the gold medals in the international categories

Students from NYU, Berkeley and Ringling College of Art and Design have won gold medals at the 2017 Student Academy Awards, which were handed out on Thursday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters.

NYU’s Max R. A. Fedore won gold in the alternative category for “Opera of Cruelty,” while the school’s Kevin Wilson, Jr. won gold in the narrative category for “My Nephew Emmett.” Berkeley’s Brad Bailey took the documentary gold for “Hale,” while Ringing’s Beth David and Esteban Bravo received the top award in animation for “In a Heartbeat.”

In the three international categories, the top winners were Katja Benrath from Hamburg Media School for “Watu Wote,” Chenglin Xie from China Central Academy of Fine Arts for “Life Smartphone” and Johannes Preuss from Filmakademi Baden-Wurttemberg for “Galamsey.”

The award for “Life Smartphone” marked the first time that China Central Academy of Fine Arts had ever been recognized at the Student Oscars, and was due to a rule change that made it easier for international students to enter.

Actor-director Andy Serkis, actor Alexis Bledel, producer DeVon Franklin and director Jennifer Yuh Nelson presented the awards. The winners were chosen by a record 468 members of the Academy who reviewed and voted on 1,587 films had been submitted by 356 film schools.

NYU won two additional bronze medals, while USC won two silvers. Other US winners were Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts. Additional international winners came from Zurich University of the Arts and Netherlands Film Academy.

Even among the winners from American schools, the prizes went to a group of students that were very diverse in race, sex and nationality.

In addition to prizes of $5,000 for gold, $3,000 for silver and $2,000 for bronze, all the winning films are now eligible in the short-film categories at the 2017 Academy Awards.

The winning students now join a roster of past Student Academy Awards winners that includes John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, Pete Docter and Trey Parker.

The winning films were announced several weeks ago; each student filmmaker knew they had won an award, but the medal placements of gold, silver and bronze were not revealed until the ceremony, which was streamed on the Oscars website.

The awards presentation was the culmination of the winners’ week in Los Angeles, which included several days of meetings, workshops, tours and other events. Many of the winners mentioned the week in their remarks, with gold medal winner Brad Bailey (“Hale”) saying it was nice to get to know the Academy. “You’re surprisingly down to earth in a way I didn’t expect,” he said. “But you’re cool.”

The medal placement:

Alternative (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “Opera of Cruelty,” Max R. A. Fedore, New York University

Animation (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “In a Heartbeat,” Beth David and Esteban Bravo, Ringling College of Art and Design
Silver: “Cradle,” Devon Manney, University of Southern California
Bronze: “E-delivery,” Young Gul Cho, School of Visual Arts

Documentary (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “Hale,” Brad Bailey, University of California, Berkeley
Silver: “On Pointe,” Priscilla Thompson and Joy Jihyun Jeong, Columbia University
Bronze: “One Way Home,” Qingzi Fan, New York University

Narrative (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr., New York University
Silver: “Mammoth,” Ariel Heller, University of Southern California
Bronze: “Who’s Who in Mycology,” Marie Dvorakova, New York University

Narrative (International Film Schools)
Gold: “Watu Wote,” Katja Benrath, Hamburg Media School (Germany)
Silver: “Facing Mecca,” Jan-Eric Mack, Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Bronze: “When Grey is a Colour,” Marit Weerheijm, Netherlands Film Academy (Netherlands)

Animation (International Film Schools)
Gold: “Life Smartphone,” Chenglin Xie, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (China)

Documentary (International Film Schools)
Gold: “Galamsey,” Johannes Preuss, Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg (Germany)