If Our Study Abroad Student Films Were Granted Oscars...

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IES Abroad
February 10, 2020

Every year the stars descend on Hollywood to celebrate a year of achievement in filmmaking at the Academy Awards. And last night history was made when Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite became the first international film to be awarded Best Picture.

A global lens is just one of many tools in a filmmaker’s toolkit, so we decided, if Hollywood can do it, why can’t we? We receive amazing international films every year for our Study Abroad Film Festival, so we are handing out our own (honorary) awards—from Best Visual Effects to Best Original Screenplay—to some of our stand-out Semi-Finalist student filmmakers from our 2019 Festival. And the IES Abroad Oscar goes to....

Best Documentary Short | Afro-Argentinos: Estamos Acá

Charles Hamer (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2018 | St. Olaf College) 

Why the film was selected: This documentary does a wonderful job bringing attention to a much-needed dialogue, provides a variety of authentic interviews with locals, and gives a glimpse into the ever-growing Afro-LatinX community that is fighting for visibility in Buenos Aires. Like any good documentary, it highlights an important topic that we might not be familiar with and gives us a jumping off point for future discussions.

Best Cinematography | Vienna—To Build a Home

Mohsin Waraich (IES Abroad Vienna, Fall 2018 | Butler University)

Why the film was selected: The musical score is perfectly choreographed to the incredible footage of Vienna, and the saturated color palette invites a certain sense of longing and nostalgia. Whether you’ve visited this city or not, you're left entranced by the landscape and architectural shots, and feeling warmth from the close-up shots of friends sharing important moments together.

Best Editing | Lekker

Sarah Campbell (IES Abroad Cape Town, Summer 2019 | Catholic University of America)

Why the film was selected: The pace of this film is quick and engaging without losing track of its subject. The filmmaker incorporates pop culture references seamlessly into the film to help narrate her story, which greatly enhances its entertainment factor.

Best Production Design | Numinosity

Emily Kauffman (IES Abroad London, Spring 2019 | University of Puget Sound)

Why the film was selected: You are immediately transported into the world of this film, and stay connected throughout with the artist and her inspiration. Her finished work of art, which starts as a blank canvas blowing in the wind in a beautiful garden in London, serves as a means to share interpersonal moments of divinity.

Best Ensemble | A Barcelona, Con Amor

Rachel Zingg (IES Abroad Barcelona, Summer 2019 | University of Iowa)

Why the film was selected: Everyone in this short brings a fresh perspective and a different energy to the film, which culminates in a highly curated—and highly effective—means of exploring what love means in all the different forms it can take.

Best Visual Effects | Searching London: The Lost Time Machine

Shems-Eddine Belhout (IES Abroad London, Summer 2019 | University of Tennessee-Knoxville)

Why the film was selected: This is by far the most creative, visual-effects-forward film we’ve ever received in our Study Abroad Film Festival. From scenes of Shems “jumping off” Tower Bridge into a time machine, to a full-on Parent-Trap twinning effect (yes, you see double of Shems and he’s not a twin), this film is incredible and very entertaining to watch.

Best Super Short Film | Tokyo: A Day in the Life

Ru Ferguson (IES Abroad Tokyo, Summer 2019 | Southern Methodist University)

Why the film was selected: If there’s a film that captured the energetic culture and experience of Tokyo in minute and thrity seconds, this is it. You cannot help but be entranced by the scenes of Tokyo while following along little red and white ribbons that navigate each scene. Prepare to be inspired.

Best Supporting Actor (The Skateboard) | Skate in the City

Victoria Bongard (IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2019 | University of Rochester), Sam Christie and Payton Krell (IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2019 | Miami University)

Why the film was selected: Sometimes the protagonist is the one with all the lines, and sometimes it’s a skateboard that effortlessly rolls through scenes as a shining beacon of hope, opportunity, and a little mystery. The skateboard featured in Skate in the City steals the show, and you can’t help but enjoy this character.

Best Original Screenplay | A Story of Healing

Haytham Abdelhakim Mohamed (IES Abroad Madrid, Fall 2019 | University of Rochester)

Why the film was selected: The filmmaker created this film as a letter of gratitude to his experience in Madrid and to the people he met along the way. Study abroad strings together thousands of moments, and Haytham beautifully narrates his complex and personal journey through his semester in Spain, bringing the audience along to view it in all its vulnerability and delightfulness.

Best Director | El Viento

Jada Page (IES Abroad Barcelona, Summer 2019 | University of Missouri-Columbia)

Why the film was selected: This documentary brings together both stylized shots of three women reflecting on their religious beliefs in different scenes within Barcelona as well as unscripted interviews. The juxtaposition of the formal and informal approach to exploring faith in a different country weave together to create an engaging cadence for the viewer.

Check out our 2019 IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival Winner here, and learn more about how to submit your very own study abroad film to this year’s Festival.

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