It’s Time to Vote for the 2019 Study Abroad Film Festival Winner

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This year we received an incredible variety of films (99 to be exact—the most-ever submitted to the Film Festival!) that made us laugh out loud, cry, view cities in a new way, and want to keep watching over and over again.

They include: a journey of poems and animations jumping off a page that will lift your spirits; the most sincere, authentic visual diary of Tokyo we’ve ever seen, and a witty recounting of a series of comical, but some rather hapless, events that made a semester in Paris absolutely perfect.

Meet the 2019 Study Abroad Film Festival Finalists!

  • Come Alive by Siyu Zhou (IES Abroad Tokyo, Fall 2018 | University of South Carolina)
  • Dear Dublin, by Kirsten Mossberg (IES Abroad Dublin, Spring 2019 | University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
  • Les Cinq Mois – The Five Months by Chase Devens & David Smith (IES Abroad Paris BIA, Spring 2019 | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

It’s up to you to determine who takes home the Grand Prize! Voting begins Tuesday, October 1st, and ends Tuesday, November 5th.

Vote Now

Our jury of highly esteemed IES Abroad alumni and staff in the film industry selected this year’s Finalists based on production quality, entertainment, originality, and their ability to capture the spirit of study abroad.

Watch the Finalists’ films, vote for your favorite, and share with your friends. The winning film will be announced live at our 2019 Study Abroad Film Festival Event hosted by Richard Roeper (best known as the award-winning film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times) on Thursday, November 7th, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,500, and the Finalists will take home $500 each.

Watch the Films

Come Alive

Siyu Zhou (IES Abroad Tokyo, Fall 2018 | University of South Carolina)

In Siyu’s Words:
Studying abroad in Tokyo with IES Abroad could be the most unforgettable experience for my whole life. Japan has given me all types of happiness, but the friendships I have there make the memory become irreplaceable and make me come alive. I was in tears several times when the dreams brought me back to my memory in Tokyo, and I made this film just to say thank you to all my friends who I met one year ago. I know it is going to be hard to have another chance to see one another again, but I will still be waiting. This is for y’all, and I miss y’all so much.”

What Our Jury Said:
"GORGEOUS! I got a true first-person point of view into a culture that made me live it, not just see it. There is an energy that puts this up to the top of the heap.”

– Patrick Jager (Multi-Discipline Media Executive and IES Abroad Vienna Alum, 1988-89)

Dear Dublin,

Kirsten Mossberg (IES Abroad Dublin, Spring 2019 | University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)

In Kirsten’s Words:
“Whether you’ve flown everywhere or never left the country, I think we can all relate to the joy, wonder, and anxiety of new experiences. That’s what I wanted to capture the most in my film: the vivid feelings, good and bad, that stick with you after suddenly uprooting your whole life. So, if you felt warmed or brightened by this film, please support it by voting. I am massively grateful that you took the time to watch it, and I hope it sparked your hunger for exploration!”

What Our Jury Said:
“Lovely storytelling, nicely edited and created. Accessible, original and compelling narratives woven together. Beautiful.”

– Courtney Spence (Social Entrepreneur & Global Storyteller and Founder of Students of the World & CEO of CSpence Group)

Les Cinq Mois - The Five Months

Chase Devens & David Smith (IES Abroad Paris BIA, Spring 2019 | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

In Chase & David’s Words:
“We are the dream team, the dynamic duo, the feel-good story of two strangers from the same university that had never met before a chance encounter in a Parisian café. We are two out-of-the-box thinkers who have realized the power of owning who we really are. Our film is a testament to the endless possibilities that can be created when two people set a goal and leverage their strengths to achieve it.”

What Our Jury Said:
“A really unique take. Some films can tell an idealized fantasy of study abroad. However, there are certainly many challenges that arise. This film accurately captures those moments. Well done on the production and editing - some nice moments. Also the fact that 90% of the music was originally produced is highly impressive.”

– Philip Baites (IES Abroad Rabat Alum, 2017-18, and 2018 Film Festival Winner)

Walk the Red Carpet & Support IES Abroad Scholarships


Purchase your ticket today! After you vote, we invite you, your friends, and your family to join us ($25 Adults | $10 Students & Children | $80 VIP) at the Film Festival on November 7th at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and hosted by famous Chicago film critic Richard Roeper.

You’ll feel like you’re at the Oscars of study abroad as you walk the red carpet (yes, a real red carpet), get your photo snapped by paparazzi (ok, our photographer, but one can dream!), watch inspiring study abroad films while enjoying delicious popcorn, and witness the live reveal of the winning film!

Wait, there’s more! Attend the post-event awards reception for a meet-and-greet with the student filmmakers, alumni, and our award-winning jurors.

6:30 p.m. | Doors open
7:00 p.m. | Study abroad film screenings, Q&A with student Study Abroad Film Festival Finalists, and a live reveal of the winning film
8:30 p.m. | Awards reception

We look forward to seeing you on the big night! Also, be sure to follow along for updates on the Film Festival at @iesabroad on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, and follow #IESabroadFilmFest.

Interested in making study abroad part of your journey? Check out our study abroad and internship programs to see where your next big adventure will take you.

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