The Student Academy Awards Collection

Spike Lee and Fay Kanin

Spike Lee, left, winner, Dramatic Merit Award (“Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads”), and Academy president Fay Kanin at the 1983 (10th) Student Academy Awards ceremony.

Since 1973 the Academy has presented Student Academy Awards in such categories as Alternative, Animation, Documentary and Narrative.  In 1981 it added an annual Honorary Foreign Film award.  To date, the Academy has honored more than 300 student films, and the Academy Film Archive has holdings on all but approximately two dozen of those works.  The Archive has also collected access copies of the regional finalist films since 2006.

The annual Student Academy Awards ceremony has always featured as presenters notable filmmakers and artists from the industry – Groucho Marx, Chuck Jones, T. Hee, Oliver Stone, Curtis Hanson, Lynn Redgrave, Ed Harris, Steven Spielberg and many others.  While the Archive holds video recordings of every complete Student Academy Awards ceremony since 1995, the collection also includes footage from many of the ceremonies going back to 1976.

Since the fifth ceremony in 1978, the Academy has made a compilation of each year’s Gold Medal award-winning films, which is circulated free of charge to educational and nonprofit organizations nationwide.  While the more recent compilations contain only the winning films, many of the older editions also contain stills and footage from the ceremony itself, and even interviews with the filmmakers.

Interesting Fact:

Quite a few Student Academy Award-winning filmmakers have gone on to receive Oscar recognition – in some cases, for their Student Academy Award-winning film.  Three such films, “Karl Hess: Toward Liberty,” “The Lunch Date” and “Quiero Ser (I want to be…)” went on to win Oscars.  Two Honorary Foreign Film award winners, Mike van Diem of the Netherlands and Jan Sverák of the Czech Republic, have directed features that won Foreign Language Film Oscars for their respective countries.  Robert Zemeckis and John Lasseter, among the most prolific of the past student winners, have earned multiple nominations and Oscars for their professional work.  The Academy Film Archive has holdings on all of the Student Academy Award-winning films whose creators have become Oscar nominees or winners.

For more information about the Student Academy Awards, including an expanded list of notable winners and a complete list of previous winners, visit:

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