Young animators were among those honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday, June 13, at the 31st Annual Student Academy Awards. Of the 10 finalists in the Animation category, three students walked away with awards and one heck of a line on their resumes. Three-time Oscar nominee Pete Docter of Pixar, a past Student Academy Award winner himself, was on hand to present for the alternative and animation categories.
The Gold Medal went to Alexander Woo of New York University for his animated short, Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher. The film takes place in1941 as the United States battles Nazi Germany. When the U.S. Government learns that high-ranking Nazi general Eval Schnitzler has occupied a legendary volcano on the coast of South America, Rex Steele and his sidekick, Penny Thimble, are sent to foil the German’s evil plans.
Taking home the Silver Medal was Sukwon Shin of the School of Visual Arts in New York for his work, Rock the World. The Bronze Medal went to Craig Van Dyke of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for Lemmings, a short about a book-smart lemming who realizes that it is up to him to save his species from making the ultimate sacrifice.
Other finalist films in competition included The Box Man by Nirvan Mullick (California Institute of the Arts), Cats by Chris Choy (California Institute of the Arts), Criminals by Gregory Araya (University of Southern California), Fragile by David Cumbo (Art Institute of Pittsburgh), Going Up? by Marci Ellis (Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, Fla.) Son of Satan by JJ Villard (California Institute of the Arts) and Tricks for a Treat by Jeff Mednikow (School of Visual Arts, New York).
The winning students first had to compete in one of three regional competitions. Each of those regions was permitted to submit to the Academy up to three finalist films in each of the four categories. In addition to the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, the victors will receive cash prizes of $5000, $3000 and $2000, respectively.