Two Thumbs Up for the 2014 Study Abroad Film Festival Winner: "East of Here" by Alexa Penton

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Jill Kruidenier
September 15, 2014

The curtains have closed on our very first Study Abroad Film Festival (SAFF), and we couldn’t be more excited to announce the winner. Congratulations to Alexa Penton (University of Mississippi, IES Abroad Beijing, Spring 2014) on her award-winning film, East of Here!

As an IES Abroad student video blogger, Alexa surprised and delighted us each month with new vlogs that made us feel like we were right there alongside her, experiencing Beijing and Chinese culture. For those who watched Alexa’s videos, it was obvious that she was talented at telling her story through film—and thousands of Facebook voters agreed her SAFF submission was the best.

In describing how her film captures the spirit of study abroad, Alexa writes, “East of Here is told from several different perspectives, each interviewee offering a short insight into how they have been changed by their time abroad.” She continues, “It challenges the viewer to look deeply into the fabric of a very foreign country and emerge, hopefully, with their perceptions and opinions redefined.”

In case you missed it, you can watch East of Here below.

As the winner, Alexa will receive a $1,000 award, assistance in submitting to other film festivals, and an invitation to IES Abroad’s Annual Conference in October, where she will be recognized in front of IES Abroad member institutions and worldwide staff.

We’d like to give a special shout out to our two finalists, Japan - A Boy’s Journey by Finn Smyth (University of South Carolina, IES Abroad Tokyo, Summer 2013), and home sweet home by Grace Duval Johnston (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Customized Program: School of the Art Institute of Chicago Paris Fashion, Spring 2012). Also, keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks as we share our semifinalists’ videos on social media.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to create and submit a film, our international jury, and those who voted online.

Congratulations again, Alexa!

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Jill Kruidenier

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