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Sarasota Student Among Academy Winners
(released 6/14/2006)

Thirteen students from nine different colleges and universities were honored on Saturday, June 10th as winners in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 33rd annual Student Academy Awards competition. For several days, they had participated in a slate of industry-related activities and social events culminating with the awards ceremony, which featured actress/writer Nia Vardalos, filmmaker Kevin Smith and Academy President Sid Ganis as presenters, at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. One film student from South Africa also was selected to receive this year's Honorary Foreign Student Film Award.

The winners are:

Gold Medal: "Perspective," Travis Hatfield and Samuel Day, Ball State University, Indiana
Silver Medal: "6 A.M.," Carmen Vidal Balanzat, City College of New York
* Only gold and silver medals were awarded in the Alternative category.

Gold Medal: "The Possum," Chris Choy, California Institute of the Arts
Silver Medal: "The Dancing Thief," Meng Vue, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Bronze Medal: "Turtles," Thomas Leavitt, Brigham Young University

Gold Medal: "Reporter Zero," Carrie Lozano, University of California, Berkeley
Silver Medal: "The Women's Kingdom," Xiaoli Zhou, University of California, Berkeley
Bronze Medal: "Three Beauties," Mak Hossain, Purdue University

Gold Medal: "Christmas Wish List," Sean Overbeeke, University of North Carolina
Silver Medal: "El Viaje" ("One Day Trip"), Cady Abarca-Benavides, Columbia University
Bronze Medal: "Pop Foul," Moon Molson and Jennifer Handorf, Columbia University

Honorary Foreign Student Film Award
"Elalini," Tristan Holmes, The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance

While the U.S. winners knew they would each receive an award, the level of that award – gold, silver or bronze – was not revealed until the ceremony. Besides trophies, gold medalists received $5,000, silver medalists were awarded $3,000 and bronze medal recipients were presented with $2,000. The Honorary Foreign Film winner received $1,000 in addition to the trophy.

The U.S. students first competed in one of three regional competitions. Each of those regions was permitted to nominate as many as three finalists in each of the four award categories. Academy members then screened these finalists' films and voted to select the winners.

"Elalini," by Honorary Foreign Film winner Tristan Holmes, was selected from an original pool of 29 submissions from 22 countries. Holmes is the first student from South Africa to win this award.

The Student Academy Awards were established by the Academy in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Among past winners who have gone on to prominent careers as filmmakers are Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, John Lasseter and Trey Parker. Three of last year's winners received Oscar nominations earlier this year: Dan Krauss for his documentary, "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club," Shane Acker for his animated short film, "9," and Honorary Foreign Film winner Ulrike Grote for her live action short "The Runaway" ("Ausreisser"). Overall, 33 past Student Academy Award winners have garnered Oscar nominations over the years.

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