AFI Sweeps the Student Academy Awards Narrative Category – American Film Institute


AFI Sweeps the Student Academy Awards Narrative Category

Today the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the winners of the 46th Student Academy Awards with AFI filmmakers from the Class of 2018, including Asher Jelinsky for MILLER & SON, Hao Zheng for THE CHEF and Omer Ben-Shachar for TREE #3, sweeping the Narrative category for second time in history. Also this year, AFI won more awards than any other film school.

In 2019 the Student Academy Awards competition received a total of 1,615 entries from 255 domestic and 105 international colleges and universities, which were voted upon by a record number of Academy members.  The 2019 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and Robert Zemeckis.

The winning films by AFI Conservatory Class graduates are now all eligible for Oscars®:


MILLER & SON is a character-driven drama that looks at the dilemma between social acceptance and authenticity. The family auto shop of MILLER & SON represents everything that Ryan has known and loved: her father, her community, her passion for cars, even her destiny to inherit the shop. Ryan compartmentalizes her femininity from her life at the garage, managing to find a livable compromise between her daytime and nighttime worlds. When an unforeseen event forces her worlds to converge, Ryan must confront her conflicting identities.

Production Crew

  • Director: Asher Jelinsky
  • Writer: Asher Jelinsky
  • Producer: Kate Chamuris
  • Cinematographer: Robert Nachman
  • Production Designer: Robert Aguirre
  • Editor: Selinda Zhou


In the near future, when all labor works are replaced by humanoids, a Chinese chef, Pu (60s) is ordered to pass on his cooking skill to a humanoid robot William and to teach him Chinese cooking. Designed to satisfy his owner, William tries to follow Pu’s every instruction, but his robotic demand for precision and perfection is essentially contradictory to Chinese cooking. At the same time, the protests against AI replacing the human labor are more and more intense. Qiang, Pu’s apprentice is also one of the protestors. Since Qiang disappoints Pu time and time again in cooking, Pu starts to get closer with William, which pushes him to the opposite of human beings. Pu becomes at a loss in this dilemma.

Production Crew 

  • Director: Hao Zheng
  • Writers: Vanessa Leqi Kong and Ithaca Yixian Deng
  • Producer: Ithaca Yixian Deng
  • Cinematographer: Carlo Mendoza
  • Production Designer: Mboni Maumba
  • Editor: Guangwei Du


Itai, an eccentric newly immigrated Israeli boy living in America, dreams of being cast as the lead in his annual school play. However, he is consistently cast as one of the background trees due to what he believes is his “foreignness”. When his drama teacher gives him the opportunity to direct the other “trees” in this year’s production (also immigrants from other countries) for a short bow at the end of the play, he goes all the way to make sure that these trees won’t be forgotten. Will Itai’s revolutionary take on the trees’ new significance be his calling card to assimilation in America, or alienate him further from his classmates?

Production Crew 

  • Director: Omer Ben-Shachar
  • Writers: Omer Ben-Shachar and Sydney Meadow
  • Producer: Iris Xuan Yang
  • Cinematographer: Zilong Liu
  • Production Designer: Katia Najera Viale
  • Editor: Yinong Xia

The medalists will be presented with their Student Academy Awards at a ceremony on Thursday, October 17, which is free and open to the public. Support these groundbreaking AFI filmmakers, and reserve your seat at today!

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