AFI Conservatory Film SKIN Wins Gold Medal at Student Academy Awards – American Film Institute


AFI Conservatory Film SKIN Wins Gold Medal at Student Academy Awards

Congratulations to SKIN director, writer and cinematographer AFI Conservatory Alum Leo Behrens (AFI Class of 2023) for his Gold Medal win in the Alternative/Experimental category at the Student Academy Awards. With the win, Behrens is the first openly trans Student Academy Award winner. His film, SKIN, is a poetic exploration of self-discovery, using symbolism to depict a woman’s transformation into a man. Aided by her inner manifestation, she sheds her old skin and embraces her true identity. SKIN was produced by Ilayda Cetinkaya, with production design by Mojo Wen and editing by Alejandra Armijo Cruz (all AFI Class of 2023). SKIN is the 18th AFI film to receive a Student Academy Award®.

The AFI Conservatory filmmaking team was celebrated on October 24 at the Student Academy Awards ceremony held at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. SKIN and the other award-winning short films are eligible to compete for nominations at the upcoming 96th Oscars®.

View the ceremony and acceptance speech by Leo Behrens here:

To learn more about attending the AFI Conservatory master’s program in filmmaking, please visit

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