HOLLYWOOD — In an event less globally momentous than Oscar night, but nonetheless crucial to its participants, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Sunday presented its Student Academy Awards to nine budding filmmakers from the U.S., two from Germany, one from Japan and another from Korea.
The winners of the 25th annual event collected their awards — which look nothing like Oscars — at a ceremony in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
It culminated a week of receptions and meetings with industry figures at venues such as the Directors Guild of America and the American Society of Cinematographers.
In the dramatic category, NYU’s Bill Platt, from Reston, Va., won a gold award for “Bleach,” a science-fiction police story. (Platt also received the DGA’s student award.) The silver went to two American Film Institute students, Hawaiian Joel Moffett and Matthias Visser, from Kassel, Germany, for “My Body,” about a character’s acceptance of his true sexual orientation. And the bronze was won by Boston-born Dana H. Glazer, NYU, for “Intermezzo,” about a concert violinist who discovers that a ghost lives in his house.
The dramatic awards were presented by five-time Oscar nominee Paul Mazursky.
In animation, voice-over actress June Foray presented the gold to Korea-born Peter Choe and Indiana native Neal Nellans, from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., for “Jataka,” about a boy’s journey to release the soul of an old warrior. The silver went to Houston native Kyle Clark, USC, for “Switchback,” in which Stumpy finds himself in a race with his mechanical legs. And the bronze was awarded to Suzanne Lee Twining, from Baltimore and U. of the Arts, Philadelphia, for “Put on a Happy Face,” a journey into the mind of a 10-year-old boy who doesn’t know how to smile.
In documentaries — with actor David Paymer as presenter — there was a tie for the gold between “Fighting Grandpa,” by Greg Pak of NYU, who shot a study of his Korean immigrant grandparents’ relationship, and “Occidental Encounters,” Stanford student and Tokyo native Yuriko Gamo Romer’s exploration of interracial marriages. The bronze went to another Stanford student, Aaron Lubarsky, for “Wayne Freedman’s Notebook,” a behind-the-scenes look at the work of a TV reporter.
In the alternative category, Robin Larsen from UCLA won for “Sombra,” a surreal and evocative film about a dying woman who is haunted by the memory of a spirit’s hold over her child. Larsen also stars.
The Honorary Foreign Film Student Award went to Thorsten Schmidt, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, for “Rochade,” a thriller about a date that ends up costing a man his identity.
It is the 18th time the Academy has presented an award to a foreign film student. Two previous winners, Jan Sverak, who was a student in the former Czechoslovakia, and Mike Van Diem, of the Netherlands, have gone on to win Oscars in the foreign-language film category.
Since the Student Academy Awards program began in 1973, recipients who have gone on to achieve prominence as professional filmmakers include Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis and John Lasseter, who is the only person to win gold medals in the contest two years in a row — 1979 and 1980. Lasseter went on to win an Oscar for his animated short film “Tin Toy” (1988) and received Academy Award nominations for “Luxo Jr.” (1986) and for his screenplay for “Toy Story” (1995).
Gold medalists received $2,000, silver medalists $1,500 and bronze medalists $1,000.