Students from Brigham Young, Columbia, Stanford, the Art Institute of Jacksonville and the University of Television and Film in Munich have won gold medals at the 41st Student Academy Awards, the Academy announced on Saturday night at a ceremony in West Hollywood.
The awards were presented by actors Demian Bichir, Adrian Grenier and Nate Parker, and by the “Frozen” team of writer-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck and producer Peter Del Vecho. Bichir lauded the winning films as being “the real thing,” while Parker commented, “[The Academy] said, ‘Do you want to come and present this award?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. I’m an actor — I want to meet them [the student directors] first.’”
The 11 winners came from nine different U.S. film schools and three international schools, with only NYU and Stanford winning more than one award.
The winners were chosen from 35 U.S. finalists from 23 different schools, and 10 international finalists, which qualified by competing in regional competitions.
The names of the winners were revealed on May 16, but the level of award won by each – gold, silver or bronze – was not revealed until envelopes were opened at Saturday’s ceremony.
Gold medals come with $5,000 prizes, and automatically qualify the winning film in the 2014 Oscar race for live-action short, animated short or documentary short. Silver and bronze medals carry prizes of $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.
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Saturday’s ceremony was held for the first time at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood; in recent years, the show has typically taken place at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The Art Institute of Jacksonville, Florida student Drew Brown won the gold medal in the Alternative category for “Person,” a wordless film about a transgender teen. The silver medal in the category went to Daniel Sierra for “Oscillate.” No bronze medal was awarded in the category, which typically has fewer than three winners.
In the Animation category, the winner was Brigham Young’s Daniel Clark and Wesley Tippetts for “Owned,” while silver and bronze went to Teng Cheng for “Higher Sky” and Hayley Foster for “Yamashita.”
“Owned,” which depicts a showdown between a video games champion and a young child who gets the better of him, had already won first place at the College Television Awards (the “Student Emmys”) in the animation category.
The gold medal in the Documentary category was won by Stanford’s Helen Hood Scheer for “The Apothecary,” which looks at the owner of a drugstore in the remote and poor Colorado town of Nucla. Silver went to J. Christian Jensen’s “White Earth” and bronze to Zijian Mu’s “One Child.”
Narrative awards went to Columbia’s Keola Racela for the Shanghai-set period piece “Above the Sea” (gold), Yulin Liu’s “Door God” (silver) and Camile Stochitch’s “Interstate” (bronze).
In the international category, Lennart Ruff from the University of Television and Film in Munich won the gold medal for the thriller “Nocebo.” Silver and bronze went to Tel Aviv University’s Hadas Ayalon for “Paris on the Water” and Northern Film School (UK) student Peter Baumann for “Border Patrol.”
Clips from each of the winning films were shown during the ceremony, with a screening of all five winners in their entirety after the awards were presented.
The ceremony was the culmination of several days of activities for the winning filmmakers, who spent the entire week in Los Angeles at Academy-sponsored meetings, screenings and trips to studios. In their acceptance speeches, virtually every winner thanked the Academy for what they said had been an amazing week.
“Owned” director Wesley Tippetts went one step further in his speech, ending with this: “If there’s anything else to be said, it’s a quote from the classic film ‘Miss Congeniality’: ‘We are all winners, and we really do want world peace.’”
The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 “as an extension of the Academy’s mission to engage filmmakers at the college level,” said AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in her remarks opening the ceremony. Past winners include Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker, Bob Saget and Pixar’s John Lasseter and Pete Docter.
A number of films have gone from winning Student Oscars to being nominated for Academy Awards – most recently Luke Matheny’s “God of Love,” which won both prizes.
Gold Medal: “Person,” Drew Brown, The Art Institute of Jacksonville, Florida
Silver Medal: “Oscillate,” Daniel Sierra, School of Visual Arts, New York
Gold Medal: “Owned,” Daniel Clark and Wesley Tippetts, Brigham Young University, Utah
Silver Medal: “Higher Sky,” Teng Cheng, University of Southern California
Bronze Medal: “Yamashita,” Hayley Foster, Loyola Marymount University, California
Gold Medal: “The Apothecary,” Helen Hood Scheer, Stanford University
Silver Medal: “White Earth,” J. Christian Jensen, Stanford University
Bronze Medal: “One Child,” Zijian Mu, New York University
Gold Medal: “Above the Sea,” Keola Racela, Columbia University, New York
Silver Medal: “Door God,” Yulin Liu, New York University
Bronze Medal: “Interstate,” Camille Stochitch, American Film Institute, California
Gold Medal: “Nocebo,” Lennart Ruff, University of Television and Film Munich, Germany
Silver Medal: “Paris on the Water,” Hadas Ayalon, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Bronze Medal: “Border Patrol,” Peter Baumann, The Northern Film School, United Kingdom