Honoring Exceptional Emerging Filmmakers: DGA Student Film Awards Celebrate Diversity and Talent in the Industry

New York, NY – The 29th Annual DGA Student Film Awards were recently held in New York City and Los Angeles. These awards, established almost three decades ago by the DGA’s National Board, aim to address the underrepresentation of directors of color and women in feature filmmaking. The program honors and supports diverse emerging directors from film schools across the United States.

Over 200 schools nationwide, including historic black colleges and universities, participate in the program. The DGA aims to recognize and promote the talents of women and people of color, paving their way into the film industry and the Guild itself.

The New York ceremony took place on December 12. DGA Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Joyce Thomas welcomed the attendees and congratulated the winners. Notable recipients of the Student Film Awards include industry professionals such as Jon M. Chu, Nicole Kassell, Ryan Coogler, and Patricia Riggen. The competition features five categories: African American, Asian American, Latino, Women, and Documentary directors. DGA member panels review the submissions and select the winners.

During the New York ceremony, the East Region winners were acknowledged and awarded their certificates of achievement. The African American category jury award went to Anndi Jinelle Liggett from New York University for her film “Jelly”. Keith Leung from New York University won the Asian American category for “I, Chinese”. Valery Garcia from Florida State University received the Latino category award for “Descension”. Mary Louise Renegar from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts won the Women’s category for her film “The Chaperone”.

Moving to the Los Angeles ceremony on December 14, Gil Cates Jr., the DGA Student Film Awards Committee Chair, welcomed the audience and emphasized the impact of underrepresented voices in storytelling. Celebrity host LeVar Burton recognized the exceptional filmmakers from the West Region who were chosen as jury award recipients.

Later in the ceremony, the directors of the winning films in each category were recognized. Kennedy Love-Green from UCLA won the West Region African American category for “Portrait”. Naomi Christie from the American Film Institute won the Asian American category for “Object of Desire”. Giselle Bonilla from the American Film Institute secured the award in the Latino category for “The Bullfighter”. Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal from USC took home the Women’s category award for “Backlog”. Lastly, Majiye Uchibeke from USC won the Documentary category with “I Am More Dangerous Dead”.

Throughout its history, the DGA Student Film Awards have provided a platform for filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. Past winners, including Jon M. Chu, Ryan Coogler, and Patricia Riggen, have gone on to achieve success in their directing careers.

The DGA Student Film Awards serve as a vital stepping stone for emerging talent in the film industry. These awards not only recognize the achievements of young filmmakers but also highlight the ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. With over 200 participating schools, the program continues to foster the next generation of directors who will shape the future of cinema.