In 1972, the Academy established the Student Academy Awards to provide a platform for emerging global filmmakers by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work.
Past winners have gone on to receive 59 Oscar nominations and have won or shared 10 awards. This year, two 2017 Student Academy Award winners received Oscar nominations in the Live Action Short Film category: Katja Benrath, a Gold Medal winner in the Narrative (International Film Schools) category for “Watu Wote/All of Us,” and Kevin Wilson, Jr., a Gold Medal winner in the Narrative (Domestic Film Schools) category for “My Nephew Emmett.” Past Student Academy Award winners include filmmakers Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and Robert Zemeckis.
The Academy is now accepting entries for its 2018 Student Academy Awards® competition. All Student Academy Award® winners become eligible for Oscars® consideration.
The U.S. competition is open to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students whose films are made within the curricular structure of an eligible accredited institution.
The international competition allows two options for students at international film schools to submit their films. In addition to CILECT-member schools submitting one student film per international film school category, international students may now enter films that qualify through film festivals recognized by the Student Academy Awards Executive Committee. (The list includes Annecy Festival, Animafest Zagreb, Anima Brussels, Animator Poland, Cinanima, Encounters Bristol, Hiroshima Animation Festival, ITFS Stuttgart, OIAF)
Regulations pertaining to animation/film festivals: Eligible students enrolled at non-U.S. based colleges or universities (regardless of membership in CILECT) can submit one film to the Student Academy Awards if that film meets all other eligibility criteria and has been selected for screening in competition at three film festivals recognized by the SAAs over the last two years. Films must be in competition, not just screening at the festival. Proof of “in competition” status must be provided, ideally through links to festival pages highlighting the film’s “in competition” status.
. Category Descriptions
a. ANIMATION - Animated films may present an original narrative story, an existing story or fable, or an exploration of a mood or thought. Either comical or serious, they usually fall into one of two general fields -- character animation or abstract animation. Various techniques include cel animation, computer animation, clay animation, stop-motion, pixilation, cut-out pins, camera multiple-pass imagery, kaleidoscope effects, and drawing on the film frame itself. Winning Animation films are chosen by judging the product as a whole, as well as the artistic and technical skill of the filmmaker in whatever motif or animation technique the student has chosen.
b. DOCUMENTARY - Documentary films are nonfiction visual essays that seek to present historical subjects, current social or political issues, or specific human experiences in such a way as to have a dramatic impact upon the viewing audience. Documentaries may be filmed in the cinéma vérité style where camera and microphone merely record the event without injecting the comments or subjective conclusions of the filmmaker, or may be a reenactment. In the latter case, the distinction between dramatic and documentary film lies in the fact that while dramatic film is fictional, documentary film deals with factual situations and circumstances. Winning films in this category are chosen on the basis of artistic technique, as well as the ability of the documentarian to fashion reality into a film essay which leaves the audience better informed and/or moved.
c. NARRATIVE - Narrative films strive to portray life, a character or a narrative story much the same way a novel does, but within the context of an audiovisual medium. Past narrative films by students have included, but were not limited to, dramas, comedies, musicals, and many other story oriented genres. Winning entries in this and all other categories reflect the merit of the film when viewed as a whole, as well as the professional execution of its component parts, such as script, dialogue, direction, cinematography, lighting, acting, editing and scoring. Narrative category films may be adaptations of existing pieces of literature or original stories written by the student filmmaker.
d. ALTERNATIVE/EXPERIMENTAL – Sometimes referred to as “experimental,” films submitted in this category risk disqualification if they could also be submitted in any other category (i.e. the narrative, documentary, or animation categories, as defined by these rules). This category is not meant to be a “catch all” category for films that have unusual narratives or simply lack structure and/or craftsmanship. Alternative films challenge traditional cinematic boundaries and conventions of expression. Alternative films employ progressive aesthetic and/or technical elements. Alternative films convey a reinterpretation of traditional structural components such as story, imagery, words, time, space, motion, sound, light and color. Alternative films often expand the language of cinema and generally are non-narrative and may not necessarily have a story arc. The Academy strictly evaluates if films submitted in this category are appropriately Alternative.
Students are asked to submit their films online using FilmFreeway, a widely used festival and competition platform.