Congratulations to AFI’s Student Academy Award Winners


Posted by Larry Gleeson

The American Film Institute sweeps the Narrative Category

Thursday night, October 17th, 2019, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored 16 student winners from colleges and universities around the world at the 46th Student Academy Awards® ceremony.

David Rubin

“You are the future of film: a future that is diverse, international and very bright,” said David Rubin, the President of the Academy, “On behalf of all the members of the academy, we can’t wait to see the stories you next tell.”

The American Film Institute swept the Narrative Category with Asher Jelinsky winning the Gold Medal for MILLER & SON, Hao Zheng winning the Silver Medal for THE CHEF and Omer Ben-Shachar winning the Bronze Medal for TREE #3 — all from the Class of 2018.


Narrative film winners Omer Ben-Shachar, Asher Jelinsky and Hao Zheng —all AFI Class of 2018 — at the 46th Annual Student Academy Awards® on Thursday, October 17, in Beverly Hills.

In his acceptance speech, Ben-Shachar said, “At 11 p.m. when we were working late hours at AFI, people would come and ask ‘Don’t you want to go home?’ and I would say, ‘I’m already there.’” Zheng talked about how much it meant to pursue his filmmaking dream as an AFI film student from China and to get the blessing of his father, while Jelinksy spoke about the importance of visibility with their film about a trans woman who works at an auto shop during the day and can only be herself at night.


Winners are now all eligible for the short categories at the Oscars®. The evening’s presenters included filmmakers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005), Rory Kennedy and Gregory Nava.

Check out the winners’ speeches!

No films are made without a production team and here are the crews behind the award-winning films:


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


  • 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

TREE #3 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