Premiere is the annual student film festival hosted by DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts. Now in its 12th 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 the last six years, the festival provides an opportunity for student work to be showcased in one of the oldest theaters in the nation.

Premiere Film Festival 2018 Program

Premiere 2016 Award Winners


The Farm on Rice Lake Road

Best Documentary Film, Best Cinematography - Graduate

Justin Jones

This short film captures the filmmaker's family days before they will depart from their longstanding home on Rice Lake Road. A personal story about the significance of place and the ties that bind us to it.



Best Sound Design

Adam Carl

In a future where fresh water is a scarce commodity, a smuggler must avoid capture by the corporations out to control the supply.


Persephone Lied

Best Editing: Zoe Kraft

Best Production Design: Molly Hickey

Perhaps a story that we’ve known to be true for thousands of years was a lie. Maybe Persephone wasn’t dragged into Hell by Hades… maybe she jumped.


Secrets We Keep

Best Cinematography - Undergraduate

Alan Dembek

Set in the underbelly of Chinatown against a sadistic gang of thugs, a deliveryman risks it all to avenge his sister’s dishonor.



Best Experimental Film

Shane Beam

It's a movie that explores the idea that we occupy our bodies and they belong to us, but they also don't sometimes but they definitely could be or not to be.

young adult male in eerie red fog

Pumpkin Guts

Best Original Score

Stuart MacFadyen

Following a fatal accident at the onset of October, lone survivor Doug finds himself lost in the once familiar pageantry surrounding Halloween. Relief seems to come from a mysterious Old Man, who provides pumpkin seeds that grow into something sinister.

cartoon bird like creature in a mouth of another creature


Best Animated Film

Nolan J. Downs

Nature’s balance is demonstrated in this commentary on the evolutionary process.


Blood Shaped Hole in My Heart

Best Short Screenplay, Best Picture

Kevin Endres

A forlorn woman searches for truth in her mother’s eclectic sayings, blurring the line between memory and reality as she reflects.

young father is stressed out sitting on a couch with his teen daughter


Best Directing - Graduate

Darius Dawson

A teen-aged runaway confronts her past when her abusive stepfather discovers where she’s been hiding.

sketch of a bedroom framed in an eye shape as if you are looking around the bedroom

Next Time You'll Know Better

Best Directing - Undergraduate

Jennifer Stachovic

In the darkness of his room, a boy falls victim to a vile creature with a voracious appetite.


Putt World

The Judges´ Choice Award, The Audience Choice Award

Ryan Zum Mallen

Willie Raymond a washed up former professional miniature golfer gets one final attempt to reclaim his career when a chance encounter at the miniature golf course pits him against his teenage rival, Bradley Braxton.


A Fresh Cut

The Classic Cinemas Award

Gavin Wright

A single blade of grass escapes the horrific massacre of his people. His initial grief turns to anger. This pushes him to uproot himself and take on the deadly machine himself.


Van Go Go

The Vincentian Prize

Chelsea Yang

In a society that doesn't cater to the differently-abled, one Chicagoland music band raised above, published their first album in 2015.

Best MFA Thesis Feature Drama

‪‪‪‪Kate Fox - Atreya

‪Best MFA Thesis Feature Comedy

Keely Lewis Wise - Plain Jane

‪Best MFA Thesis Drama Pilot

‪‪‪‪Kris Miranda - Incarnate

‪Best MFA Thesis Comedy Pilot

‪‪‪‪Karisa Bruin - Mile Markers

‪Best Ensemble Cast

‪‪‪‪Written Off

Voice and Vision Award

‪‪‪‪Sean Austin

‪‪‪‪Nolan J. Downs

Helmut P. Epp Vanguard Award

‪‪‪‪Dre Sanchez

Premiere 2015 Award Winners


Pale Moonlight

Best Production Design - Tie

Director: Danny Farber

Chicago in the 1920's, Pale Moonlight churns the past with the present for hip-hop artist Colin Grimm's latest music video. Mobster and back room interrupts a potential love fair in a speakeasy home to all types of personalities.



Best Editing

Director: Adem Suljic

In a tale of survival, compassion, and loss, a young boy in a war torn Bosnia is forced to fend for his life by evading his captors.


‪Billie's Search

Best Documentary

Director: Natasha Major

Billie's Search is a portrait of filmmaker Natasha Major's late grandmother, Billie Webster, told through the use of old VHS, a daughter's recollection, photographs, recordings and poetry.


Vegas: The 120 Days of Sodom

Best Experimental Film

Director: Ryan Saunders

An undeniable link exists between what the Marquis de Sade illustrated and the inherent ideologies of low brow American sex comedies. Apparently the scatological influences on Jon Turteltaub were stronger than expected.



Best ‪Ensemble Cast

Director: Danny Morlock

A young man prepares for a road trip amidst his friends and family's disapproval.


Eddie In Love

Best ‪Production Design - Tie

Director: Danny Morlock

Eddie’s life is about to end but not before he makes one final trek to profess his love for the nurse at the end of the hallway.

two gentlemen in suits are having a drink at a bar


Best Undergraduate Cinematography

Director: Ben Sherman

‪In the near future, the filmmaking process has been condensed into a computer program. One writer, who struggles to hold onto the art of his craft, gets trapped inside the story he wanted to control.

a close up of a young woman looking intensley


Best Sound Design, Best Graduate Cinematography, Best Original Score, Graduate Jury Award

Director: Ward Crocket

A woman restoring an old house experiences strange events in an unfinished space in the basement.

a female student sitting outside the office of a male psychologist who is peeking out of the office seemingly spying on her


‪Audience Choice Award, Best ‪Graduate Directing

Director: Josh Wolff

Charles, a high school psychologist at a parochial school, struggles to keep his personal and professional lives separate and intact.

drawing of a young girl resting on a wall

Rooftops and Fire Escapes

Best Undergraduate Directing

Director: Frannie Williams

After a recent traumatic experience, an awkward college girl goes out for the night.

a joyful guy getting in a yellow bird mascot

The Bird of Dammam

Winner The Vincentian Prize

Director: Mansour Albadran

A short documentary about "Marvin Calma" a 27-years-old immigrant from the Philippines who works as a children entertainer at McDonald's in Saudi Arabia. The film tracks Marvin's life for a day as he experiences entertaining a group of Saudi children with Down Syndrome as part of an extracurricular school activity in Dammam city.

cgi character of a young boy figurine stretching out to grab a red balloon

Die Flucht

Undergraduate Jury Award, ‪Judges' Choice Award, ‪‪Best Animated Film

Director: Carter Boyce

Die Flucht follows the story of a lonely figurine, traveling on a fixed track, trying to catch a red balloon. When the machine breaks down, the boy comes to life, and attempts to finish the cycle he was originally destined to be on forever.

Goodnight Jeffrey

Best Short Screenplay

Director: Tyler Smith

Jeffrey is a worrier, especially at night. Unable to fall asleep, he replays his conversation with a beautiful barista through the lens of neurotic memory and imagination.

Helmut P. Epp Vanguard Award

‪‪Recipient - Elliot Callighan

‪The Voice and Vision Filmmaking Award

‪‪‪‪Recipient - ‪Ryan Saunders

‪Between Wind and Water

‪‪‪‪Winner ‪First Look Feature Length Screenplay

Writer: ‪Tyler Smith

‪After he is released from prison, Jimmy Sullivan looks for redemption when he joins a crew of homeless men to rebuild a ship to sail the New England coast.


‪‪‪‪Winner First Look TV Pilot

‪‪‪‪Writer:‪ George Ghanem

The Madame of a brothel doubles as the headmistress of an all-girls boarding school through which she must run her prostitution ring.

‪Counselor of the Year

‪‪‪‪Winner MFA Thesis script TV

Writer:‪ Tyler Bourdeau

A sheltered, home schooled, only child takes a job as a camp counselor in hopes of finally making the friends he never had growing up.


‪‪‪‪Winner MFA Thesis script Feature

‪‪‪‪Writer:‪ David Olson

Log Line - When an unlucky concert-goer finds himself trapped in a Port-a-Potty, he must escape before the band finishes their set–and he misses his chance to pull off the perfect marriage proposal.

Premiere 2014 Award Winners


Photo Booth

Best Casting

Director: Veronica Bouza



Best Animated Film

Director: Joel Benjamin

Surviving in the middle of the ocean on an airplane wing.


Truth By Jazz

Achievement in Short Film Writing, Best Cinematography

Director: Alanna Bagladi

A modern noir about an internet blogger who takes the risk to meet her online boyfriend in person, and things don't go as planned.


Ghost Plant!

Achievement in Producing

Director: Kaitlin Martin

Two plants fall in love. One dies and must come back as a ghost to save the other one.


Doritos Heist

Best Visual Effects

Director: Nick Silva

Two plants fall in love. One dies and must come back as a ghost to save the other one.


The Park

The Dana Hodgdon Experimental Film Award

Director: Sean Austin

Twenty years ago, a boy found himself lost in a park. Today, a young man tries to find the boy through time, space and memory.


Playing Cards At Dawn

Best Cinematography

Director: Ward Crockett

A bartender and a junkie share some laughs over a friendly game of cards. But there is more to their friendship than they are willing to tell each other.



Achievement in Short Film Writing

Director: Zoe Lubeck

This is a story about a girl and her dog. Simple as that.


Joke's On You

Best Original Score

Director: Joe Goudreault

The local park clown, rejected by the community, plots the ultimate joke.



Best Documentary Film

Director: Rita Ciolek

Jax is an intimate portrait of Jackie Ortega - a young woman diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, who's story is a fight against all odds on a journey that leads to self-empowerment and healing of herself and those around her.


Una Mujer Sin Precio (1961)

Best Picture, Achievement in Producing, Best Directing, Film Festival Submission Prize, Best Sound Design, Best Production Design, Best Editing, The Judges' Choice Award, & The Audience Choice Award

Director: Alaric Rocha

When the perfectionist scientist, Dr. Víctor Junco looses his wife, maribella to a car accident he builds a robotic version to replace her. He soon realizes he can create the "perfect" woman out of his wife, but perfection has consequences.