Premiere Film Festival


Premiere is the annual student film festival hosted by DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts. Now in its 18th year, the festival showcases the best of student work in cinema and animation with awards presented in 20 categories covering all facets of filmmaking from screenwriting to post production. Jury members include industry insiders, festival programmers, and filmmakers from around the country. Held in the historic Music Box Theatre for many years running, the festival provides an opportunity for student work to be showcased in one of the oldest theaters in the nation.

This year’s Premiere Student Film Festival will be held on May 31, 2024 at the Music Box Theatre. Learn more and see the full program.

Premiere 2023 Award Winners


One Night On Dover St.

Best Editing, Best Directing by an Undergraduate Student: Aidan Karstadt



Best Sound Design: Jonah Fiden & Michelle Leduc, Best Directing by an Undergraduate Student: Andrew Jacobson



Best Ensemble: Maeve Terranova


Cottage Grove

Best Writing, Audience Choice Award: George Ellzey Jr.



Best Animation, Grad Faculty Award: Brandon Frank Lopez



Jury's Choice Award: Jewells Santos



Audience Choice Award, Undergrad Faculty Award: Taylor Young & Grace Bales


this land is your land

Best Experimental Film: Colin Mason

Additional Winners

Best Storyboard

Sarah Schmidt - Showdown

Best Production Design

AJ Walls & Angeline Krupa - MORE

Best VFX

James Whitehill - ELPIS

Best Producing

Keiph Oliver & Jordan Rivers - Kairos

Best Cinematography

Aris KaiKiu Lu - Celestial

Best Directing by a Graduate Student

Jeffrey Gabriel Silva - The Black Monk

Best Documentary

Ethan Herman - The Front Lines

Best Music Video

Jewells Santos - Girls

MFA Thesis Half-Hour TV Pilot Script

Kimberly Spohn - The Wrong Three

MFA Thesis One-Hour TV Pilot Script

Quentrell Rogers - Prince Dracula

MFA Thesis Feature Film Screenplay

Will Cruitt - 10 out of 12

Monica Keaton - A Woman of Her Own

Vanguard Award

Caleb Stevens

Voice and Vision Award

George Ellzey Jr.


Premiere 2022 Award Winners


Big Iron

Best Cinematography by an Undergraduate Student: Caleb Stevens


Breaking the Barrier

Best Documentary: Bridget Johnson


God Willing

Media for Social Change: Vincent DiFrancesco


Hello Depression

Graduate Faculty Judges’ Award: Cassie Llanas


Missing the Quiet

Best Sound Design: Hank Fritzmann


Phantom Heart

Best Cinematography by a Graduate Student: Jeffrey Gabriel Silva

two gentlemen in suits are having a drink at a bar  


Best Animated Film, Achievement in Short Film Writing, Undergraduate Faculty Judges’ Award, and Fan Favorite (Text to Vote): Caleb Carl Nelson

a close up of a young woman looking intensley  


Best Editing, and the Jury’s Honorable Mention: Michael Merlino


Roger J. Carter - Unapologetic

Jury Award: Anthony Ciancio

drawing of a young girl resting on a wall  


Best Music Video, Best Directing by a Graduate Student: Jewells Santos


Tooth & Nail

Best Directing by an Undergraduate Student: Max Checkor


Split Ends

Best Producing: Jennifer King


We Love a Different Way

Best Production Design: Alek Crawford


What The F*ck Is Exotic Supposed To Mean

Best Experimental Film: Div Barod



Best Ensemble Cast


Premiere 2021 Award Winners


Blood Feud

Best Producing: Adem Suljic


By the Time I Reach Him

Best Documentary, and the Jury's Honorable Mention: Meg Walsh


Circus Act

Best Production Design: Brynne Wassel



Jury Award: Best of the Fest: Linh Tran


Field Trip

Best Directing by a Graduate Student: Yu Wei Chang


A Girl's Guide to Texting in a Situationship

Best Directing by an Undergraduate Student: Brigid Curran Hackett



Vanguard Award: Elijah Grey


The Island of the Dolls

Graduate Faculty Judges' Award, Achievement in Short Film Writing, and Audience Choice Award: Julio César Padilla



Best Ensemble Cast


Paid Research Study - Study 4: Green Valley Tofu Tendercuts

Best Ensemble Cast


Pick Your Poison

Best Animated Film, Undergraduate Faculty Judges' Award, the Jury's Honorable Mention: Zoe Pham



Best Experimental Film, Best Editing: George Edward Ellzey Jr.


What God Wants

Best Cinematography: Mykhailo Bogdanov

Amanda M. Tames Memorial Scholarship

Seika Hanayama

Premiere 2019 Award Winners

Sick and injured in waiting room  

E.R. A.M.

Best Directing - Graduate, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Short Film Writing – Will Schneider

Animation of two people in nature  

The Investigator

Best Animation: Logan Himango

young family celebrating toddlers birthday  

Our Transition

Best Documentary, Judges’ Choice - Undergraduate, Audience Choice, Jury Award: Conner O’Keefe

Older in house full of plastics  


Best Production Design: Willow Rakoncay

young female gazing out window  

Red Thread

Best Experimental: Yijun Pan & Anh Vo

man photographing outside  


Best Editing: Justin Jones

cartoon male in kitchen  

Waiting by the Phone

Best Directing - Undergraduate: Olivia Jenson

Additional Winners

Judges’ Choice - Graduate

Brady Findell - Selfie

Best Cinematography

Brandon Hoeg - Breakfast

Best Sound Design

Greg Cormier & Jacob Ocker - Dipsomaniac

Premiere 2018 Award Winners

Opening Night  

Opening Night

Best Animated Film (tie): Margaret Bialis

Best Sound Design: Joey DeFabio

Jury Award, Undergraduate

Audience Choice Award

A man reflects on formative conflicts from his past with optimism, humor, and gratitude... with a musical twist.



Best Production Design: Hana Zeitz

A lonely hick running a rural motel falls for a girl on the run and vows to keep her safe, but when a strange repairman shows up unannounced, we discover a bloody truth which will leave one man crushed.

The Death of Art  

The Death of Art

Best Visual Effects: Jonathan Blanton

A bored podcast listener tries to pass the time. Now with enhanced graphics.


Ground Up

Best Experimental Film: Morgan Daugherty

Best Editing: Paul Restivo

The early morning rush... Everyone's an addict.



Best Directing, Graduate: Kevin Endres

Jury Award, Graduate

In an attempt to save her sister and father from a fatal illness, a scientist tests unsanctioned, experimental drugs aiming for a cure that is both bodily and spiritual.



Best Ensemble Cast: Greg Dixon

What if your boyfriend asked you to move across country to start a new life but your dying mother and everything you've ever known were here in Chicago?


Las Puertas del Paseo Boricua

Best Documentary Film: Edwin R. Ruiz

13 Latino Artists representing Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador painted 16 doors on Division Street that celebrate our cultures, reflect on obstacles we've overcome, current political challenges, and the unity and integration that we want to see more often and in our future.


Rainy Day

Best Score: Andrew Badertshcer

An elderly widowed man struggles to make breakfast.



Best Cinematography: Alex Naremore

A constipated, suicidal man is determined to empty his bowels one last time before finally ending his life.



Best Animated Film (tie):
Elizabeth Hopwood

Best Sound Mixing: Joseph Vnuck

In a lush tropical forest, a wacky firebird is pursued by a hermit with an intense hunting habit. Constantly thwarted by the bird’s uncanny connection to the cycles of the sun, the hermit comes to realize that his blissful adversary may be more powerful than it appears.


Tragedy, in Ten Scenes

Best Directing, Undergraduate:
Alexander Popov

Ten stories set during one night in Moscow, that provide a tour of the human condition in reality and fantasy.



Best Short Screenplay: Randle Taylor

Walt’s pension is cut and now he must find a job to take care of himself and his beloved and ill wife Bell.