A graduate student from the School of Cinematic Arts will be taking the stage Thursday night at the 43rd Student Academy Awards as one of 17 winners from across the nation.
Alicja Jasina, a master's student from the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts, was named one of the three winners in the Animation category for her film "Once Upon a Line." The gold, silver and bronze medal winners in five categories — Alternative, Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Foreign Narrative — as well as the overall winners in the Foreign Animation and Foreign Documentary categories will be announced tonight at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The competition this year was especially competitive, with a record 1,749 films submitted from 286 domestic and 95 international colleges and universities, according to a statement released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A record number of Academy members voted on the entries as well.
Another graduate student in the School of Cinematic Arts, Halima Lucas of the school's production division, was nominated as a finalist for her film "Amelia's Closet," a coming-of-age story about a girl who is bullied at school. Lucas was one of seven to reach this level in the Narrative Category, and although she did not qualify for a medal, she said that she was still grateful for the opportunity to be recognized by the Academy.
"I was so excited for the team because it was the kind of project where we didn't have that many resources; it was just this band of people who came together and said we love this story, we have to have it, let's make it happen no matter what," Lucas said. "I think that speaks to the spirit of the story we were trying to tell."
Actors Joel Edgerton, Lucy Liu, Daisy Ridley and Parker Sawyers will present at the ceremony on Thursday night. Previous winners of the Student Academy Awards, which were established in 1972, include Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.
The first winner from USC took home an award in 1975, Most recently, then-graduate student Alexandre Peralta took home the gold medal in the Documentary Category in 2015 for his film "Looking at the Stars."