The Student Academy Awards (SAA) recognizes and honors student filmmakers who demonstrate excellence in the creation of motion pictures. By awarding these outstanding achievements, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences strives to support and inspire emerging filmmakers and to foster growth and education in the art and science of motion pictures.

Student Academy Awards Website

Meet the 2020 Medalists

Frequently Asked Questions

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal Awards (which include cash grants of $5000, $3000 and $2000, respectively, and a trip to Los Angeles for SAA Week) may be given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of outstanding achievements in student filmmaking in each of five domestic and international film school categories: Narrative, Animation, Alternative/Experimental, Documentary, and Narrative (International Film Schools). Gold medals may be given in two international film school categories: Animation (International Film Schools) and Documentary (International Film Schools).



The student director/s must have been enrolled as a student (full-time or part-time) in a degree-granting program at an accredited U.S. college or university as recognized by the SAA Executive Committee (see School Eligibility section below).


CILECT member schools are allowed to submit up to ONE film per International category. The student director/s must have been enrolled as a student (full-time or part-time) at a college or university that is a current member of CILECT (The International Association of Film and Television Schools).

The student director/s must have been enrolled as a student (full-time or part-time) in a degree-granting program at a college or university based outside the U.S. (see School Eligibility section below) AND their film has been selected for competition in three qualifying film festivals (SAA Qualifying Festivals List) between June 2, 2019 and June 1, 2021. Proof of “in competition” status must be provided.


1. Domestic (U.S. based) must be accredited by one of the following agencies:
a. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
b. New England Association of Schools and colleges
c. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
d. Northwest Accreditation Commission on Colleges and Universities
e. Western Association of Schools and Colleges
f. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

2. International (non-U.S. based) must meet the following criteria:

a. Schools must be either a member of CILECT (; in order to submit via
the CILECT option or through the film festival qualifying option) or be accredited
by the responsible governing body in their country (in order to submit through
the film festival qualifying option).
b. International programs that are part of American based colleges and universities
fall under international rules regardless of the nationality of the student. For
example the NYU program in Dubai would be an “International School”.
c. Programs must offer an associates, bachelors or graduate degrees
d. Animation Training Programs do not have to provide college degrees but may
offer a certificate to its students upon completion of the program.
e. Program must be either a non-profit educational organization or a government
sponsored educational institution.


ALL student films (US and international schools) must satisfy the following criteria except where noted:

1. Films must have been made in a teacher-student relationship within the curricular structure of the teaching institution.
2. Films (other than those by international students qualifying through the film festival qualifying process) must have been completed and submitted for final credit/grading between June 2, 2020 and June 1, 2021, and within one year of the student’s graduation date unless the Covid-19 pandemic delayed completion of the film and pushed the student past the one year mark. Pandemic-delayed films have a temporary window of two years from graduation for 2021. (International students qualifying through the film festival qualifying option already have a two year window in which to qualify; see Student Eligibility above.)
3. Films must be the same version submitted to the student’s school for credit/final grading and may not be altered once submitted for Student Academy Award consideration. Do not submit work in progress.
4. Films cannot have been entered in any previous SAA competitions. Making changes to a film submitted in a previous year, even significant changes, does not make the film eligible again.
5. Films submitted for the Academy Awards competition (regardless of the outcome) are not eligible for entry into any subsequent SAA competition.
6. Films (including any still images) must not display any festival laurels, or awards won.
7. Films must be no longer than 40 minutes including opening and closing credits.
8. All films submitted must be in English, subtitled in English, or dubbed in English.
9. Advertising films, promotional films, and films made as works for hire are not eligible.


1. The SAAs honor up to three credited directors. If your film has more than three directors, please submit the names of up to three who are the most responsible for creative content. If there are any credit discrepancies or controversies, the Academy will insist that credits be settled before the film may be considered for an award. The Academy will not be bound by any contract or agreement relating to the sharing or giving of credit and reserves the right to make its own determination of credit for purposes of SAA consideration.
2. Entry forms and films must be submitted digitally via
3. Films must be viewable on FilmFreeway. Enable your privacy settings to allow your film to be embedded on FilmFreeway.
4. You must supply your faculty adviser name and email as they will be contacted to verify your film and student status.
5. Each film must be submitted to one category only. If a film is determined to be in an incorrect category, it will be reassigned to the correct category.
6. Films advancing to the semifinal round of judging may be asked for additional formats such as a DCP or HD quality digital file. Any hard media provided will be returned to the entrant after the competition ends.
7. Failure to satisfy all the entry requirements will result in disqualification.

1. Student Academy Award participants may only promote their status in the competition within the explicit guidelines provided by the Academy.
2. Promoting any film entered into the SAA competition to Academy members (either by the filmmaker or by a third party, sometimes referred to as campaigning) while the SAA competition is active is not allowed, and will be considered cause for disqualification.

1. Student Academy Awards medal-winning films are eligible for entry into the following year's Academy Awards competition, provided the films satisfy all criteria for the Academy Award category for which they are entered.
2. If the eligibility and/or category of any entry is questioned, the Academy reserves the right to make a determination as the SAA Executive Committee may deem appropriate at its discretion.
3. The Academy reserves the right to amend or modify any procedure, process, or rule, as may be considered necessary by the SAA Executive Committee for the proper conduct of the Student Academy Awards or to adhere to any standards set forth by the Academy.
4. The Academy is not responsible for late, missing, or damaged entries.
5. The decisions of the Academy regarding any matter relating to the SAA will be final and binding in all respects.

Overall Rating
  • Sujin Kim

    They are creating a miracle.
    The best film competition that I ever participated in as a filmmaker.

    October 2021
  • German Golub

    Highest quality organization level out in the field. People are clear in communication and needs, but also listen and care about your needs. 5 stars from bottom to top.

    October 2020
  • Luce Grosjean

    Such an important step for a director career to be selected to the SAA !!!

    July 2020
  • I had such a wonderful time which will stay forever in my heart at SAA week. A huge thank you to the Academy for recognizing and honouring my work. Nomadic Doctor won the Gold medal in the International documentary category at SAA. #studentacademyawards @theacademy

    October 2018
  • Yvonne Ng

    Most amazing experience. SAA staff were superb.

    November 2016