Study Abroad Film Festival

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IES Abroad Student Stories on the Big Screen.

We figured there's no one better to tell the story of study abroad than our phenomenal students, so in 2014 we launched our Study Abroad Film Festival (the first in the industry of it's kind!), which asks students to capture the spirit of study abroad—both what it meant to them, and how it redefined their world.

With the help of a highly esteemed jury and a public vote, three student finalists are selected and flown to Chicago for an evening celebrating their films in front of a live audience.

Over the past five years, 300+ student films have put us on the edge of our seats, demonstrating the transformative power of study abroad and the creative abilities of IES Abroad students. Experience the magic for yourself by submitting a film, voting for your favorite later this year, and/or by attending our award-winning event.


Submit Your Film

We know you have an amazing story to tell and we don’t want to just hear it, we want to see it. Make us laugh. Make us cry. Teach us. Challenge us to think about the world that we live in and move us to do something about it.

We invite you to submit your short films—up to three!—that encompass the spirit of study abroad and how it redefined you!

 The deadline to submit to the 2019 Study Abroad Film Festival is August 1, 2019. 

student wearing sunglasses and blue shirt holding camera with stabilizer

Study Film Abroad

Could your homework win you $1,500?

Students on any of our programs are welcome to compete in the study abroad film festival, but when you study film abroad your class project can become your festival submission!

Check out our range of programs that offer courses in film studies and film production.

attendees mingling at the study abroad film festival in the museum of contemporary art in Chicago

Attend the Festival

What better way to see study abroad than through the lens of our students? Join us on November 7th for an inspiring night showcasing student stories on the big screen.

Hosted by film-critic Richard Roeper, the 6th Annual Study Abroad Film Festival will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago and will include film screenings from around the world, a Q&A with student filmmakers, a live announcement of the grand prize winner, and a celebratory reception all in benefit of IES Abroad scholarships. 

More information will be made available as we get closer to the event — join our email list to be one of the first to know when tickets go on sale.

Jury member Thamine Nayeem attending the 2017 Film Festival

How the Winning Film Is Selected

1. Initial Review: IES Abroad staff bring their popcorn and tissues and spend hours watching and widdling down student film submissions. Staff check that films meet contest requirements, and select the pool of semi-finalists to be sent to the international jury.

2. Jury Review: Our highly esteemed jury from around the world watch and score all semi-finalist films. The top three student filmmakers are then invited to Chicago for the official Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

3. You Vote! The finalist films are announced at the beginning of October and public voting opens for the month. The film with the most votes is announced as the grand prize winner at the Study Abroad Film Festival on November 7, 2019 in Chicago and recieves $1,500.

Still of Philip Bates from his 2018 film festival winning video "Tangier to Casablanca"

Watch Past Films

Year after year we are awed by how thoughtful and talented our student filmmakers are. From poignant music videos to compelling documentaries to humourous reenactments, our students stop short of nothing to creatively depict their experiences from abroad.

Grab a comfy seat, give these films a watch, and get inspired about study abroad. We hope to see your film on the big screen next!

Film fest winners Ismael and Kyle with Kate Flannery and FOX 32 host on set of Good Day Chicago

Hear What Others Are Saying

We've always known that our students tell the story of study abroad the best, that's why we're so thrilled with the recognition our Film Festival has recieved since it began in 2014. 

reflection of student with camera in sunglasses on another student's face
Join the Study Abroad Film Festival