USC Again Dominates DGA Student Film Awards Honoring Diverse Filmmakers

Filmmakers from USC again dominated the DGA’s annual Student Film Awards for African American, Asian American, Latino and women directors, which are designed to honor, encourage and bring attention to exceptional diverse directors in film schools and universities nationwide.

A national awards ceremony will take place virtually February 17.

The DGA gives out 16 student film awards – eight in the West region and eight in the East. USC student filmmakers won four of the awards, while students at UCLA and AFI won two at each school. Last year, USC students won six awards.

“We are so honored to spotlight the next generation of directors as we celebrate the 27th annual DGA Student Film Awards,” said DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter. “Recognizing emerging talent through these Awards is one part of our ongoing efforts to encourage inclusion in the industry, and we’re proud that a number of our past recipients have found success in film and television. We congratulate these extraordinary student filmmakers and look forward to seeing their future creations.”

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Eligible films were made in the 2020-21 school year (September 2020 through August 2021) and were produced as a student project under the supervision of a faculty member – with students holding every major crew position. Dramas, comedies and documentaries were all eligible, while animated and experimental films were not.

Past winners who have gone on to enjoy successful directing careers include Ryan Coogler, Jon M. Chu, Steven Caple Jr, Nicole Kassell, Patricia Riggen and Sylvain White

Here are the winners of the 27th annual DGA Student Film Awards, selected by blue-ribbon DGA member panels:


East Region
Award Winner: Sarah Gambles of Florida State University – “Fairydust”
Jury Award: Yasmeen Purvis of City University of New York – “Who Was Lee Edwards?”

West Region
Award Winner: Omar S. Kamara of AFI – “Mass Ave.”
Jury Award: De’Onna “Tree” Young-Stephens of USC – “Not Just a Name”


East Region
Award Winner: Bohao Liu of NYU – “Eagles Rest in Liangshan”
Jury Award: Justin Li of Ithaca College – “Moments Fleeting”

West Region
Award Winner: Jun Hee Han of UCLA – “Uncle”
Jury Award: Sining Xiang of UCLA – “Foreign Uncle”


East Region
Award Winner: Mackenzie Rosario of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale – “Forward Journey”

West Region
Award Winner: Jorge G. Camarena of AFI – “Spaceship”
Jury Award: Joe Perry of USC – “Niño de Nadie”


East Region
Award Winner: Lamu Shangchoo of School of Visual Arts – “Walk Alone”
Jury Award: Chloe Sarbib of Columbia University – “Jensen”

West Region
Award Winner: Kay Niuyue Zhang of USC – “Mother in the Mist”
Jury Award: Afton Quast Saler of USC – “Neurodivergent”