Three Longhorns Named Student Academy Award Finalists

Three Longhorns Named Student Academy Award Finalists
Before Spike Lee became one of the United States’ most highly respected film directors, he was a Student Academy Award winner. So were Trey Parker (South Park), Pete Docter (Up), and Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future).

This month, three Longhorns are poised to follow in their footsteps. UT radio-television-film graduate student Deja Bernhardt and alumni Russell O. Bush, MFA ’12, and Brian Schwarz, MFA ’12, are among 38 national finalists in the 2013 Student Academy Awards. The awards are the student version of the Oscars, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Bernhardt, Bush, and Schwarz were selected from more than 500 entrants, and they had to win at a regional level earlier this spring before advancing to the national competition. Each entered a film they produced as part of their UT coursework toward an MFA in film and media production.

“It’s a big honor,” says Bernhardt, whose film The Midwife’s Husband is a finalist in the narrative category. “We’ve all started getting emails from agents and managers, and I’ve never gotten contacted by any of those before. So it’s really cool to have people interested in your work.”

Schwarz’s film Ol’ Daddy is a narrative finalist, while Bush is competing in the documentary category with Vultures of Tibet.

Schwarz says that in addition to its prestige, the Student Academy Awards offer more freedom than many film festivals entered by students. “Festivals have time limits that are pretty restrictive,” he says, “and mine’s a long film at 29 minutes, so that was a limiting factor. This definitely opens some doors.”

The Academy will announce the final winners next week. They will be flown out to Los Angeles for a week of networking and a June 8 awards ceremony.

Photo courtesy lincolnblues on Flickr.


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