27th Annual DGA Student Film Awards

27th Annual DGA Student Film Awards

February 17, 2022

On February 17, DGA members, winning students and their guests viewed the virtual ceremony for the 27th Annual DGA Student Film Awards. The awards are designed to honor, encourage and bring attention to outstanding women and ethnically diverse film students at select universities across the country.

The evening began with a welcome from DGA Student Film Awards Committee Chair Gil Cates, Jr., who said. “To date, the program has grown to encompass over 200 schools nationwide, including historically black colleges and universities,” said Cates. “It is a hallmark of our efforts to recognize the talents of emerging women and people of color, supporting their entrance into the film industry and eventually into the DGA. This is just one part of the Guild’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. This year is particularly special as we are celebrating the ceremony during Black History Month.”

After acknowledging the work of long-standing Student Film Awards Committee members Henry Chan, A.P. Gonzalez and Betty Petitt; members of the Focus on Women and the Eastern Diversity Steering committees, particularly Joyce Thomas and Derrick Doose; and the newest official committee member, Abdul Malik Abbott, Cates announced that the West Coast Student Film Awards African American Category Jury Award will be given in honor of former Committee member Reginald D. Brown, whom we lost this past year. He also announced that the program will be introducing two new West Coast awards and two new East Coast awards designed specifically to recognize African American, Asian American, Latino and Women student documentary directors with more details will come during the 2022 DGA Student Film Awards season.

Cates turned the proceedings over to Director Carl Weathers, who was serving as the emcee of the ceremony.

“These awards have recognized over 300 emerging filmmakers. Past recipients have gone on to direct as varied productions as Queen Sugar, In the Heights, Tales of the City, Fargo, Black Panther, The Umbrella Academy and Empire. Today’s nominees follow the footsteps of Channing Godfrey Peoples, Jon M. Chu, Nicole Kassell, Ryan Coogler and Patricia Riggen,” said Weathers. “I’d like to take a minute and congratulate this year’s recipients, and their supportive family and friends who are with us tonight. With deepest awe, we understand the challenges that these directors had to confront as they brought their visions to life amidst year two of this global pandemic, yet we celebrate them tonight in a virtual space.”

After a screening of clips from the jury award-winning short films, Weathers congratulated the East Region recipients: Yasmeen Purvis of City University of New York in the African American category for Who Was Lee Edwards?, Justin Li of Ithaca College in the Asian American category for Moments Fleeting and Chloe Sarbib of Columbia University in the Women’s category for Jensen. He then acknowledged the West Region recipients: De’Onna “Tree” Young-Stephens of USC in the African American category for Not Just a Name, Sining Xiang of UCLA in the Asian American category for Foreign Uncle, Joe Perry of USC in the Latino category for Welcome Back,  Star Victoria of USC in the Women’s category for Niño de Nadie and Afton Quast Saler of USC in the Women’s category for Neurodivergent

The Student Film Award-winners of each category were selected by blue ribbon DGA member panels and the awards were given out via pre-recorded video presentations.

Director Salli Richardson-Whitfield (The Gilded Age, The Wheel of Time) presented this year’s winners in the African American category: East Region winner Sarah Gambles of Florida State University for Fairydust and West Region winner Omar S. Kamara of AFI for Mass Ave. Director Karyn Kusama (Yellowjackets, Destroyer) presented this year’s winners in the Asian American category: East Region winner Bohao Liu of NYU for Eagles Rest in Liangshan and West Region winner Jun Hee Han of UCLA for Uncle. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Hunters, The Current War) presented this year’s winners in the Latino category: East Region winner Mackenzie Rosario of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for Forward Journey and West Region winner Jorge G. Camarena of AFI for Spaceship. Director Liesl Tommy (Respect, Jessica Jones) presented this year’s winners in the Women’s category: East Region winner Lamu Shangchoo of School of Visual Arts for Walk Alone and West Region winner Kay Niuyue Zhang of USC for Mother in the Mist.

Clips from each winning film were viewed and the winners all had the opportunity to deliver their acceptance speeches online.


About the Student Film Awards

The DGA Student Film Awards have highlighted dozens of African American, Asian American, Latino and Women filmmakers over the years. A number of past winners have gone on to enjoy successful directing careers, including:

  • Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II; Grown-ish; Rapture; The Land)
  • Jon M. Chu (In the Heights; Home Before Dark; Crazy Rich Asians; Now You See Me 2)
  • Ryan Coogler (Black Panther; Creed; Fruitvale Station)
  • Nicole Kassell (Watchmen; Castlerock; Westworld; The Americans)
  • Patricia Riggen (Dopesick; Surveillance; Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan; Miracles From Heaven)
  • Sylvain White (The Rookie; Fargo; The Umbrella Academy; Amazing Stories)

Eligible films were made in the 2020/2021 school year (September 2020 through August 2021), and produced as a student project under the supervision of a faculty member – with students holding every major crew position. Dramas, comedies and documentaries are all eligible – animated and experimental films are not eligible. Applicants must be enrolled in, or be a recent (one-year) graduate from, an accredited post-secondary institution located in the United States.

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