Vote Now for Your Favorite 2017 Study Abroad Film Festival Finalist

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We’re excited to announce the Finalists for our 2017 Study Abroad Film Festival! Congratulations to:

  • Ismael Byers | Solitude: A Companion Abroad (IES Abroad Santiago – Politics, Social Justice and Language, Spring 2017 | Hope College)
  • Kyle Arnold | Solitude: A Companion Abroad (IES Abroad Santiago – Politics, Social Justice and Language, Spring 2017 | Ithaca College)
  • Jacob Hatfield | Sapporo  (IES Abroad Tokyo – Language & Culture, Fall 2016 | Penn State)
  • Wennicha Yang | The Journey of Healing in Japan (IES Abroad Tokyo –  Language & Culture, J-Term 2017 | University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

From more than 90 submissions, which is nearly double the amount of submissions from the Film Festival’s first year in 2014, our jury of highly-esteemed IES Abroad alumni and staff in the film industry selected the 4th annual Film Festival finalists based on their ability to capture the spirit of study abroad, production quality, entertainment, and originality.

Now it’s your turn to choose the Grand Prize Winner!


Watch the Finalists’ films, vote for your favorite, and help choose this year’s winner to be announced live at our first-ever 2017 Study Abroad Film Festival event hosted by Kate Flannery (best known for her 9 seasons as Meredith on NBC’s hit show, The Office!) on November 1st at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Tickets are limited, so be sure to purchase your tickets soon!

The Grand Prize Winner will receive $1000 in addition to the $500 each of the Finalists take home. Voting begins October 3, and ends October 30.

Watch the Films

2017 Study Abroad Film Festival Finalist - SolitudeSolitude: A Companion Abroad – Ismael Byers (IES Abroad Santiago, Spring 2017 | Hope College) and Co-Director Kyle Arnold (IES Abroad Santiago, Spring 2017 | Ithaca College)

Creative Short

“The short film we have produced aims to showcase the perspectives of students who studied abroad in Santiago, Chile this semester asking them ‘Why they studied abroad’ and their plans ‘after,’” Ismael said. “We used their responses to guide our writing of the film. The question ‘Why abroad?’ hoped to gain responses that suggested personal growth, change or enlightenment as we explain that study abroad is not always what one expects. It is not always so loud and glamorous, it is also quiet, ‘melancholy’ and lonely. This loneliness, actually becomes our greatest teacher and companion. This companion not only accompanies us but also allows us to search our inner most selves, helping us answer questions such as ‘What are we going to do after?’”

2017 Study Abroad Film Festival Finalist - Sapporo

Sapporo  – Jacob Hatfield (IES Abroad Tokyo, Fall 2016 | Penn State)


“In Sapporo, I describe how my personal experiences with study abroad ultimately changed the way I viewed my relationships with others,” Jacob said. “Exploring many different parts of Japan and looking into my grandfather's history with the island nation, I document my semester abroad in Tokyo.”

2017 Study Abroad Film Festival Finalist - The Journey of Healing in Japan

The Journey of Healing in Japan  – Wennicha Yang (IES Abroad Tokyo, J-Term 2017 | University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)


“This film is a recap of my journey to the Japanese temples in Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo,” Wennicha said. “I begin this film by putting together clips of me, making my way to see these historical places to understand healing. Coincidentally, I traveled to Japan during the time of the New Year and witnessed vibrant Japanese traditions and cultural celebrations. Thousands of people from around the world travel to these temples to find good fortune.”

Walk the Red Carpet


In response to popular demand, the inaugural IES Abroad Film Festival event will take place on Wednesday, November 1st, at the renowned Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and hosted by Kate Flannery, best known for her 9 seasons as Meredith on NBC’s hit show The Office. Until now, our Film Festival has been a solely online opportunity for students to share their amazing stories from study abroad – but now we’re bringing the Film Festival to you live!

Join us on the red carpet for an extraordinary night of study abroad film screenings as well as a meet-and-greet with student filmmakers, IES Abroad alumni, and our award-winning jurors. Find more event and ticket details on our Film Festival Event page.


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