History of the Student Academy Awards

  • September 26, 1972 – At a meeting of the Short Subjects Branch Executive Committee, Herbert Klynn introduces a proposal for a separate recognition of student films. As a result the Academy's Board of Governors forms an ad hoc committee to define the Student Film Awards.
  • July 9, 1973 – The ad hoc committee presents its recommendations to the Short Subjects Branch Executive Committee.
  • September 4, 1973 – Rules for the first Student Film Awards competition are presented to and approved by the Academy's Board of Governors.
  • December 20, 1973 – The first Student Film Award winners are announced at a ceremony hosted by Academy member Jack Lemmon at the Academy Award® Theater on Melrose Avenue. Each of the winners receives a share of the $5,000 in prize money from the National Association of Theater Owners and an engraved trophy designed by Academy member Saul Bass.
  • July 1, 1975 – The Second Annual Student Film Awards is hosted by Oscar®-winning director William Friedkin ("The French Connection," 1971). Among the winners is Robert Zemeckis, a student at the University of Southern California, who takes home a Special Jury Award for his dramatic film "A Field of Honor." Zemeckis would go on to earn an Academy Award nomination for writing "Back to the Future" (1985) and an Oscar for directing "Forrest Gump" (1994).
  • 1976 – AT&T becomes a sponsor of the competition.
  • June 23, 1976 – The Third Annual Student Film Awards are held in the Academy's new headquarters in Beverly Hills. Presenting the awards are Honorary Award recipient Groucho Marx, Oscar-winning editor Verna Fields ("Jaws," 1975), Academy Award-nominated actor George Segal ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," 1966), Oscar-winning filmmaker Chuck Jones ("The Dot and the Line," 1965) and Academy Award-nominated documentarian David Wolper ("The Race for Space," 1959).
  • May 21, 1978 – At the Fifth Annual Student Film Awards, Bob Saget of Temple University receives a Documentary Merit award for his film "Through Adam's Eyes." Saget would go on to become a well-known comedian and television personality as well as the writer-producer-director of "Farce of the Penguins" (2006).
  • June 3, 1979 – John Lasseter, a student at the California Institute of the Arts, wins the Animation Achievement award for "Lady and the Lamp." Lasseter would receive the same honor in 1980 for "Nitemare" and would go on to become the Student Academy Awards program's most honored alumnus, with five Academy Award nominations, an Oscar (with William Reeves) for the animated short film "Tin Toy," and a Special Achievement Award in 1995 for "his inspired leadership of the Pixar ‘Toy Story' team, resulting in the first feature-length computer-animated film."
  • June 8, 1980 –Roland Hallé and Peter W. Ladue, students at Boston University, receive the Documentary Achievement award for their film "Karl Hess: Toward Liberty."  The film also would bring the pair not only a nomination but a win in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 53rd Academy Awards, making them the first Student Academy Award winners to garner an Oscar nomination and win.
  • 1981 – The Academy adds the Honorary Foreign Film award to the competition. Jaco Van Dormael, a student at the Institut National Supérieur in Belgium, becomes the first recipient of the honor for his film "Maedeli-La-Breche."
  • June 6, 1982 – Ken Kwapis, a student at the University of Southern California, receives the Dramatic Achievement award for "For Heaven's Sake." Kwapis would go onto become an accomplished television director, working on such shows as "The Office," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle." He also would direct several feature films including "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2005) and "License to Wed" (2007).
  • June 5, 1983 – New York University's Spike Lee takes home the Dramatic Merit award for his film "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads." Lee would go on to earn two Academy Award nominations, one for the original screenplay for "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and one for the documentary feature "4 Little Girls" (1997), with Sam Pollard.
  • June 8, 1986 – Stanford University's Lauren Lazin receives a Documentary Merit award for her film "The Flapper Story." Lazin would go on to earn a nomination at the 77th Academy Awards for the documentary feature "Tupac: Resurrection," with Karolyn Ali.

    Todd Holland from the University of California, Los Angeles, receives of a Dramatic Merit award for his film "Chicken Thing." Holland would go on to have a successful career as a television director and producer working on "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle."

  • June 7, 1987 – At the 14th Student Film Awards, James Spione wins a Merit Award for his film "Prelude," in the dramatic category. At the 84th Academy Awards for achievements in 2011, he is nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short Film category for his film "Incident in Baghdad."
  • 1988–1990 – The Colgate-Palmolive Company serves as national sponsor of the Student Film Awards.
  • 1990–2000 – The Directors Guild of America joins with the Academy to sponsor an additional Student Film Award for directing. The decade's winners are Adam Davidson, Steve Pearl, Christian M. Taylor, Graham Justice, Matt Danciger, David Riker, Patricia Cardoso, Charles R. Uy, Bill Platt, Marni Banack and Joan L. Stein.
  • 1991 – The Academy's Board or Governors officially renames the program "The Student Academy Awards."
  • June 14, 1992 – Peter H. Docter, a student at the California Institute of the Arts, receives the Animation Gold Medal award for his film "Next Door." Docter would go on to collaborate with fellow Student Academy Award winner John Lasseter at Pixar Animation Studios, for many years. A collaboration that would result in two Academy Award nominations: in 1995 for the original screenplay of "Toy Story" (with Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, Joe Ranft) and in 2001 for the animated feature "Monsters, Inc." In 2002 Docter, along with Roger Gould, would earn a third nomination for the animated short film "Mike's New Car." In 2009, he was nominated for the  screenplay and won the Oscars for his Best Animated Feature film, "Up."
  • June 13, 1993 – Trey Parker and Chris Graves, students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, receive the Animation Silver Medal award for their film "American History," which hints at what would develop into Parker's signature animation style in the animated television series "South Park." Parker would go on to earn an Oscar nomination, with Marc Shaiman, for the original song "Blame Canada" from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut."
  • June 12, 1994 – Robin Hessman (Brown University) and James Longley (Wesleyan University) receive the Documentary Silver Medal award for their film "Portrait of Boy with Dog." Longley would go on to earn two Academy Award nominations – for the documentary feature "Iraq in Fragments" (2006, with John Sinno) and for the documentary short subject "Sari's Mother" (2007).
  • June 9, 1996 – Amanda Micheli of Harvard University receives the Documentary Silver Medal award for her film "Just for the Ride." Micheli would go on to receive a nomination, with Isabel Vega, at the 80th Academy Awards for the documentary short "La Corona (The Crown)."
  • June 12, 2005 – Shane Acker receives the Animation Gold Medal award for his film "9." Acker would later earn an Animated Short Film nomination with "9" at the 78th Academy Awards. Two of Acker's fellow Student Academy Award winners from that year would also become Oscar nominees: Dan Krauss for the documentary short subject "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club" and Ulrike Grote for the live action short subject "Ausreisser (The Runaway)."
  • June 9, 2007 – At 34th Student Academy Awards Ben Wu of Stanford University earns his second Student Academy Award, a Documentary Gold Medal award, for "Cross Your Eyes Keep Them Wide." He had received a Documentary Silver Medal award in 2005, with Erin Hudson, for "Unhitched," making him one of only six two-time winners in Student Academy Award history.
  • June 3, 2008 – At the 35th Student Academy Awards, Reto Caffi won the foreign category with his film "On the Line" ("Auf Der Strecke"), which was nominated later that year in the live-action short film category of the Academy Awards.
  • June 13, 2009 – At the 36th Student Academy Awards, Gregg Helvey won the gold medal in the narrative category for his film "Kavi," which was nominated later that year in the live-action short film category of the Academy Awards.
  • June 11, 2010 – At the 37th Student Academy Awards, Luke Matheny won the gold medal in the narrative category for his film "God of Love," which won the Academy Award later that year in the live-action short film category of the Academy Awards.
  • June 10, 2011At the 38th Student Academy Awards, Max Zähle with his film “Raju,” won the bronze medal in the Foreign Film category, which was subsequently nominated in the Live-action Short Film category for the 84th Academy Awards. 

Contact Information

For more information, contact

Shawn Guthrie
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000 ext. 3306
sguthrie@oscars.org

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