23rd Annual DGA Student Film Awards in Los Angeles

23rd Annual DGA Student Film Awards in Los Angeles

November 9, 2017

On November 9, DGA members and their guests attended a ceremony for the 23rd Annual DGA Student Film Awards. Held at the Guild’s Theater complex in Los Angeles, these Awards are designed to honor, encourage and bring attention to outstanding African American, Asian American, Latino and Women Filmmakers in film schools and select universities across the country.

The 2017 West Coast awards ceremony began with an introductory message from DGA Executive in Charge of Diversity Programs and Committees Frank Bennett Gonzalez, who spoke about the Guild’s continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion and how these awards were just a part of that mission. Gonzalez then turned the proceedings over to DGA Student Film Awards Committee Chair Gil Cates, Jr., who spoke about the history of these awards and thanked all those who contributed to the success of this program. Associate Director Betty A. Petitt served as the evening’s voice-over announcer, introducing the presenters and winners.

Following a screening of clips from the jury prize winning short films, Cates presented the certificates of achievement to: African American Category Jury Award recipient Lane Lyle of Chapman University for Distress, Asian American Category Jury Award recipient Michael Chan of AFI for Marc Chung Protects His Address, Women’s Category Jury Award recipient Amanda Renee Knox of Chapman University for Night Call, and Latino Category Jury Award recipient Meedo Taha of UCLA for The Incident. (Taha’s wife, Samira Elghoul, who also served as the film’s consultant, accepted the certificate on his behalf as he was unable to attend the ceremony.)

After a screening of her winning short film Beyond the Gate, Latino Student Filmmaker Winner Annie Pace of UCLA took home the first award which was presented by Director Lou Diamond Phillips.

Director Anna Maria Horsford presented the award to African American Student Filmmaker Winner Sanford Jenkins of USC after a screening of his winning film A Craftsman. The award to Asian American Student Filmmaker Winner Mei LiYing of USC for her film Cocoon was presented by Director Henry Chan. And Director/DGA Women’s Steering Committee Co-Chair Maria Burton presented the honors to Women Student Filmmaker Winner Gisele Tong of USC for her film Spring Flower.

The winners were selected by blue ribbon panels comprised of DGA members. These 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:

  • Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Justin Bieber: Never Say Never; The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers; Step Up 3D)
  • Ryan Coogler (Black Panther; Creed; Fruitvale Station)
  • Nicole Kassell (The Following; The Killing; The Leftovers, The Americans; Suits; The Closer; Cold Case; The Woodsman, A Little Bit of Heaven)
  • Patricia Riggen (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan; Miracles From Heaven; The 33; Lemonade Mouth)
  • Sylvain White (Hawaii Five-0; Person of Interest; Covert Affairs; CSI: Miami; Stomp the Yard, The Losers)

The East Coast ceremony took place at the DGA Theater in New York on December 1, 2017. Click here to view photos from that event.


Eligible films were made in the 2016/2017 school year (September 2016 through August 2017), 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 (within one year) graduate from an accredited post-secondary institution in California or DGA-selected university offering a degree in film or television.

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