The Directors Guild of America has announced its 2007 Student Film Awards for minority and women filmmakers, and student directors from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts—best known as The Film School—have earned two of them.
Each year, the Guild’s Student Film Awards honor and showcase outstanding African American, Asian American, Latino and women students from select universities across the country to encourage diversity of race, gender and spirit in the filmmaking community.
This year, FSU Film School alumnus Z. Eric Yang—named Best Asian American Student Filmmaker—and undergraduate Catherine Rehwinkel—recipient of an Honorable Mention in the Best Woman Student Filmmaker category—are among the eight emerging directors selected in the East Coast division by a blue-ribbon panel of Directors Guild members.
“It’s a pretty remarkable achievement when two filmmakers from one school receive awards at this prestigious competition,” said FSU Film School Dean Frank Patterson. “But then, these are two remarkably talented students.”
FSU’s Yang, 31, a native of Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, who has lived in the United States for only six years, has been deemed the East Coast’s Best Asian American Student Filmmaker for his student thesis film, “The State of Sunshine,” a story of two illegal immigrant siblings who search for hope despite having to engage in prostitution to work off the enormous debt they owe their smugglers. Yang received his Master of Fine Arts degree from FSU in August 2007. He currently is teaching an introductory film course at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Memphis.
In addition to Yang’s top finish as Best Asian American Student Filmmaker, an Honorable Mention in the East Coast’s Best Woman Student Filmmaker category has gone to FSU undergraduate student director Catherine Rehwinkel, 22, of Tallahassee, for her student thesis film, “Mia,” loosely based on a true story from her mother’s childhood. Rehwinkel will graduate from FSU on Dec. 15 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
As a first-place winner, Yang will receive $2,500 from the Directors Guild of America and a product grant valued at $1,000 from Kodak’s Worldwide Student Film Program. For her Honorable Mention, Rehwinkel will collect a $500 product grant.
This isn’t the first time the Directors Guild of America has honored FSU. In 2004, it formally recognized The Film School for its distinguished contribution to American culture through film and television. The following year, two graduate students from The Film School received 2005 DGA Student Film Awards in the Best Woman Student Filmmaker category, while an undergraduate film student earned that year’s top spot as Best Latino Student Filmmaker.