Update: Trojans won one gold medal and three silver medals at the 45th Student Academy Awards ceremony on Thursday. Yu Yu, Yiying Li, and Kelley Kali won silver for Animation, Documentary and Narrative, respectively. Hua Tong won gold medal for Narrative.

A select group of Trojans is among the nineteen students being recognized at this year's Student Academy Awards.

Yu Yu, Yingying Li, Kelley Kali, and Hua Tong, each received awards from the Academy for their self-produced work in September.

Li, who received the documentary award for directing her piece "Love & Loss," stated that "film itself doesn't have language barriers." As a student with an international background, she also points out that "Academy judges don't look at where you come from, but they look at your story, your creativity, your production quality."

Li’s film, “Love & Loss,” deals with the topic of having romantic relationships and a disability.
Li’s film, “Love & Loss,” deals with the topic of having romantic relationships and a disability.

"They've been through a rigorous program at the School of Cinematic Arts," said Michael Taylor, a USC professor, and mentor to Kali, whose film "Lalo's House" nabbed this year's Narrative Award.

"It is a strong, successful program that turns out people who are strong and successful," he said.

On the Executive Committee for the Student Academy Awards, Taylor believes that the celebrated  films were "truly the best of the best."

The 45th Student Academy Awards will be held in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater Thursday at 7:30 p.m. There were 1,582 applications this year, including 278 applications from domestic universities and 122 from international colleges.

The Student Academy Awards was founded in 1972, aiming to encourage and support outstanding filmmakers in college. The awards are considered the highest honor among student film prizes. Many recipients in the past have even gone on to become Oscar-nominated and award-winning filmmakers.

"When the Academy members vote on these films, they are not choosing the film by topic," said Taylor about the Academy's selection process, "They are choosing the film by how good the storytelling is, how good the filmmaking is."

Amanda C. Pope, a USC professor and the mentor of the winner Li, feels so proud of her accomplishment.

"Receiving a Student Academy Award is not easy, it is also more difficult to find a subject," she said.

Pope believes that a student with an international background can be inspired with more unique stories and from different angles, which Academy Awards may feel novel.

"The advantage that the international students have is having some life experiences that many American students don't have," she said. "So these unusual and unique experiences encourage people's curiosity."

The 45th Student Academy Awards will celebrate these Trojans among 15 others at Thursday's ceremony. Although they have all received awards already, a select few will be chosen for gold, silver and bronze prizes.

Update: the story is updated with medalist information on Oct. 15 at 11:48 a.m.

Clarification: we updated our headline from "Four USC film students win Student Academy Awards" to "Four USC film students and alumnae win Student Academy Awards." Yiying Li is a current USC student. Hua Tong, Kelley Kali and Yu Yu are alumna.