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Student Academy Awards

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The Student Academy Awards became apart of the famous Academy Awards ceremony in 1973 and has kept rewarding qualified and extremely talented students ever since.  The awards were originally known as the Student film Awards until 1991, when they were named what they’re known as now, the Student Academy Awards.  Students from all over the world have the opportunity to submit their films to the Academy and have them run for a nomination list.  The applying process can be done online at, and only includes submission of your film electronically and an application that is also electronically.  Different rules apply for national and international students, but not by much.  There are also specific regional coordinators that the submissions are due to.

There are four specific categories that students can be nominated for.  The four include, Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Alternative.  The categories vary throughout the years.  There’s also an award for Foreign Film.

A little history about the awards:

  • September 1972, Herbert Klynn, who was an American animator suggested a separate category for student recognition for their short films.
  • In July of the next year, recommendations were brought to the Short Subjects Branch Executive Committee.
  • By September 4, 1973, rules were made.
  • The first Student Film Awards (ever) were announced on December 20, 1973.
  • In 1975, the awards became a summer ceremony that included medals, merits, and cash prizes.  This is the main difference between the original Academy Awards (Oscars) and the Student Academy Awards, besides being during different times of the year, the Academy Awards are based on receiving the statuettes whereas the Student Academy Awards are based on winning medals and other prizes.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also offers a timeline ( of how far the Student Awards have come since September 1972 when the idea was first pitched.

Well-known winners:

While there are plenty of noteworthy winners and nominators, there have also been a collection of winners who became very well-known directors and actors.  The long list includes:

  • Bob Saget – won the Documentary Merit for his film, “Through Adam’s Eyes” while he was attending Temple University in Philadelphia in 1978.
  • Spike Lee – won the Dramatic Merit for his film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” while he was attending New York University in New York City in 1983.
  • Trey Parker – along with Chris Graves, won the Silver Medal for the Animation category for his film, “American History” while he was attending University of Colorado, Boulder in 1993.
  • John Lasseter – won the Animation Award for the Animation category for his film, “Nitemare” while he was attending the California Institute of the Arts in 1980.
  • Robert Zemeckis – won an award for the Special Jury in Dramatic category for his film, “A Field of Honor” while he was attending the University of Southern California in 1975.

There’s a very long list of the winners of all of the Student Academy Awards each year since 1973 at

According to, each year a compilation presentation of the gold medal award-winning films is circulated each year free of charge to educational and non-profit organizations nationwide.

There was only a small few that were available online:

Zoologic was directed by Nicole Mitchell and won the Animation Gold Medal in 2008.

Dried Up was directed by Isaiah Powers and Jeremy Casper and won the Animation Silver Medal in 2010.

Viola: The Traveling Rooms of a Little Giant was directed by Shih–Ting Hung and won the Alternative Gold Medal in 2008.


All the Invisible Children

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All the Invisible Children (2005) is a collection of shorts directed by 7 different directors about childhood problems.

Song Song and Little Cat (2005) was directed by John Woo

This was a really beautiful story about two little girls in China and how their lives parallel one another somehow.  The story is about how easily anyone can effect your life without even being a real part of it. This film actually brought me to tears because of the girl’s grandfather.  It’s also unbelievably disheartening about how children are so easily orphaned without any choice and how children who appear to have everything, have just about nothing because of unhappiness and every child deserves to be happy.  This film was amazing and impossible to not get emotionally involved and feel the pain of both children, who lead completely different lives but feel similar pain.  I’m happy that the mother didn’t drive off the cliff, too. But even if the rich little girl almost had a second where her life was at risk, the poor girl is always going through that but still somehow remains optimistic.  Both girls maintain a level of optimism which is outstanding, it’s almost as if they both have each other without being aware of it.  And once they meet, it makes both of their days and lives seem better.  I also liked the tie in of how the grandfather found the doll in the same place that he found the baby girl.  All girls are dolls, whether they come from a broken home or don’t have a real home.  This was hands down one of my favourite films that we’ve watched in class

Jesus Children of America (2005) directed by Spike Lee.

This film was a more familiar story, not personally, but in the sense that it does take place in America and sparks issues that I think our culture is aware of but sometimes, for lack of a better word, ignores.  It’s much worse for children, as we saw in Song Song and Little Cat, but the location of this film and dialogue was a lot more recognizable.  It doesn’t make it any more sad, though.  This collection of shorts are really heart-wrenching and eye-opening, which is unfortunate because there are a lot of cases like these where children are invisible and it’s almost irreparable.  These are issues that there should be films about, even if they have to be short to become louder and help the issues come more at hand.  My first reaction to this film was about the relationships between parents and their children that are in those situations and how sometimes it’s like the child has to be the parent because there isn’t much the parent can do to take care of them.  The ending of the film wasn’t anything that I was expecting and it made me feel worse for the girl as she clearly had no friends or any sort of escape from her homelife.

Written by madieshortfilm

May 7, 2011 at 1:44 am

Ten Minutes Older

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Ten Minutes Older is a collection of films put together in a 2-part feature film: The Trumpet collection and the Cello collection.  The films are meant to evoke time in different ways and throughout different parts of the world.  A lot of the directors that took part in this project are pretty well-known including Spike Lee, Werner Herzog, and Jean-Luc Godard.  The collection was a tribute to Herz Frank who directed the original Ten Minutes Older film in 1978.  The collection is also a statement of how movies essentially make you older and how you are older after you’ve completed a film, no matter how long the length.  These films are specific in their length, ten minutes but each have different stories in the same time frame.

Ten Minutes Older is a film about children, with the main focus on a young toddler boy, in a movie theatre.  The film shows the reactions of children as they watch the film and the viewer watches the children as they watch a film that the viewer cannot see or hear.  The only evidence the viewer has, besides the children’s faces, is that the movie is a tale about good and evil and there is some music playing.  This plays upon the idea that as you watch a film, you tend to not be able to separate yourself because you become emotionally invested.  Frank puts in that position but makes it difficult for us to get involved in any way because all we see is someone else’s reaction, instead of being able to create our own.

100 Flowers Hidden Deep (2002) was directed by Kaige Chen for the Trumpet series of the Ten Minutes Older collection.  Chen was also a part of the To Each His Own Cinema anthologies.

This film was extremely bittersweet.  It took the topic of time and broadened it more into the topic of time that we, as a human race, are so familiar with, age.  The old man was someone who had clearly been there a lot and it showed through his face, his body and his actions, and so much more.  The fact that he was so certain of the house being placed somewhere where there was clearly nothing also is evidence that there was something there, especially when the workers say that there isn’t anything there but a tree.  The man has obviously been around for a much longer time than the movers and the movers’ boss.  This sense of time is very familiar with everyone because we all have our own pasts and our own reasons for that little bit of craziness inside of us.  This man was so certain of himself and his home and his things inside of that home, that the movers helped him anyway, even if they joked about moving “invisible” stuff.  This concept and story was a good choice for this kind of project because it puts into thought the time affects everyone very differently and what can seem extremely important to one person, can seem absolutely ridiculous to another and everyone should always keep that in mind.  It’s an extremely sad reality but this film did great in showing a visual representation of that notion. Visually, I thought this film was very well done and the time of day was really well chosen because it kind of added to the fact of time as the sun was going down.

Lifeline (2002) was directed by Victor Erice.  This film was also a part of the Trumpet collection in this anthology.

This film has a lot to do with family and how time can easily stop for anyone in that sort of community.  There’s so much going on in this film and the everyone finally just stops and gets together once the youngest is bleeding.  This film really made me wonder about how hard it is for my family to just stop for one another.  It’s disappointing and somewhat embarrassing to think that if anyone in my family was that badly hurt, not everyone would easily be there by their side.  Everything is so busy now, in our culture.  Everything is so fast-moving and there’s only a few days within the year that families get together and actually are around each other, but even then it sometimes feels so forced.  This film takes place in Spain, presumably in a small village and a large family is all throughout the property of where the family lives.  There are lots of generations present here, too.  And it all centers around the youngest, who is sleeping in his own little crib in his mother’s room.  The mother and the baby are both napping during the middle of the day and the rest of the family is moving about their own way.  The baby proceeds to bleed through it’s clothing as it sleeps and he still remains pretty quiet and unaware of what is happening with his body.  The rest of the family is unaware, too.  Until after what seems like a long period of time, but only just a short amount of time (within 10 minutes), the baby is finally found and taken care of.  That second of fear for that baby brings each family member together, all in one room and time essentially stops as the nanny or maid or nurse (it’s hard to tell what exactly her role is in the house) stitches the baby back up and the family is relieved.  The movie then ends and the viewer is left with a mix of discomfort and relief.  How often does this happen? It took longer than it should’ve for anyone to figure it out, but it happens.  We forget about how much and how fast time goes by and once we realize that there’s something big that we’ve missed, time literally stops, or we almost expect it to even though we’ve neglected it for so long.

Another message lies within this movie about the fact that like the baby did for the family, film brings us all together.  As we watch a film, our entire days are almost frozen and we forget about everything else that we could or need to be doing as we’re sitting down together watching a film.  Time stops.  We don’t even realize how precious time is, we just take it for granted and only notice it when we really need it to do something for us but it’s always moving.  It’s not a person or something we can touch or feel, but we treat as if it were because it effects so much of our lives.  Film is kind of the enjoyment of time, because you never feel guilty about watching a film, or at least true film buffs wouldn’t feel guilty about spending their own time on something they truly love.

Ten Thousand Years Older (2002) directed by Werner Herzog.  This film is another one that is a part of the Trumpet Collection.  This is the only film we watched in this collection that was more of a documentary style format.

Herzog visited the Amondauas tribe in Brazil for this particular film and after his first attempt in 1981, he decided to re-approach the idea 20 years later and fit into this collection.  The idea behind this film is that time isn’t as considered in other cultures as it is in our own or from the films that we’ve watched so far that are a part of this collection.  Once someone from the tribe (who was evidently the main character in the film) picked up a clock, he barely knew what it was or what it even meant.  Time doesn’t exist to them there, just their own tribe and the issues of it.  But the issues involve time and how it has basically run out of it for him and his tribe.  Just from the movie, the Amondauas tribe seems like it’s dwindling and decreasing in numbers and the people that are showcased in the film are in a state of embarrassment because of their parents.  Instead of being native to their tribe, they’d much rather be citizens in modern Brazil.  This film really opened my eyes on the fact that we really do neglect time as a whole and that it isn’t the same for everyone else outside of our own world.  Sometimes it isn’t even seen as an existing factor.  There are probably a lot of tribes all around the world that are like this one that Herzog documented.  This was a great representation of another culture’s idea, definition and trials of time.

Lumiere & Company

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Lumiere & Company (1995)

These films are a collaboration between 41 different directors who were given a camera and asked to follow 3 simple rules.

1. A short cannot be longer than 52 seconds long

2. No synchronized sound

3. No more than 3 takes

I think in most of the films, these rules were probably broken just for style purposes.  We only watched 4 different ones in our class and they all were easy to signify as different styles and personalities pulled through.

David Lynch

His signature was quick to point out and simple to name, strange.  It was almost dream-like because it all just seemed completely unreal and distorted to something that would be pleasant or typically (for me) interesting to watch.  I’m not necessarily a fan of David Lynch and this is only because we later viewed a film of his that I really didn’t like but after recapping this particular film, it just furthers my reasoning as to why I don’t like his style.  I think he’s brilliant in the sense of his stories being interesting and original but just for my personal insight, I wasn’t a fan.  I think the concept of this, though; with the same camera for 40 different directors were pretty cool and an interesting way to look at film through a director’s viewpoint with just a very short amount of time.

Spike Lee

I liked this one, he obviously broke the 2nd rule though, but I think it’s okay considering these were meant to portray the director’s particular style, even if the whole idea behind it with rules had to be distorted.  I think I like them more because the rules were broken. I thought it was nice that Spike Lee used a very personal subject to him for his main idea and he executed it well.  It was simple but had a lot to it.  It was his son, so I’m sure it was easier to film someone he was so comfortable with, and I’m sure even for his son, it was more comfortable for him to be filmed by his father.  The whole “Say Dada” part as the only dialogue gave it the family affect and made you feel as if Spike Lee was sharing a small part of his own world.  This one would probably be my favourite out of the ones we watched in the collection.

Theo Angelopoulos

This was hard for me to understand throughout the film.  It was noted afterwards that Angelopoulos’ style was the sense of a journey and discovery, which I definitely got while watching it but it was still not as easy to understand.  And I think that has a lot to do with the Greek culture and not knowing a lot of their history or the stories that they grow up with.  I liked the concept of watching a film while the character in the film is kind of interacting with you or looking into the lens at you, or into the “future.”  I think this film had a lot of underlying tones and wasn’t nearly as simple as the first two we watched and was just far more complex and unless you know Angelopoulos’ style from the start, it can be extremely hard to understand or interpret, as it was for me.  I especially liked this film in black and white though, while the others are in black and white as well, I feel like this, if it were an option, wouldn’t need colour, and the story was already enough.  It added more of the historical aspect to it, too.

Abbas Kiarostami

This was just another simple film out of this collection.  It portrayed the idea of realism and how an everyday occurrence can be something that is worth filming and I think this particular director did it well.  It was obviously an instance in anyone’s everyday life that he filmed and it was obvious that the phone call was some sort of a significance to the main character and possibly the director since it was his vision for just a small amount of time and with a specific camera that was given to him to experiment.

I think the concept of these films was really inventive and interesting to test the directors to display their styles in less than 52 seconds.  Out of the one’s we saw, Spike Lee’s was my favourite because his was more personal and much easier to point out a specific sense of style.  In the sense of style, I think David Lynch’s was pretty successful in terms of identifying what his particular style was.  Theo Angelopoulos made me want to discover exactly what his style was, which may have made his film successful because his style is noted as a journey or anything relating to a discovery.  Abba Kiarostami was the simplest out of all of them but was still completely relevant in anyone’s life, as a film buff or not.  It made sense the most just because it was familiar and made something so simple, something beautiful to view.

Written by madieshortfilm

April 13, 2011 at 4:46 am