Premiere is the annual student film festival hosted by DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts. Now in its 15th 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.

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

Other 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.

Premiere 2017 Award Winners

hurt underground boxer  


Best Editing: Gordon Glenn

Years after a career ending car accident, Michael Rae Samson, a former professional boxer, returns home to discover his family is being held against their will by a psychotic mob boss.


There Is No Door

Best Production Design: Maggie O'Brien

Best Cinematography - Graduate:
Eric Liberacki

From childhood to adulthood, Sam contends with the suicidal curse that has plagued her family for generations.

old lady with cake set in the far future  


Best Sound Design: Adam Carl

After celebrating her 140th birthday, Martha must come to terms with the reality of death.



Best Directing - Graduate: Chris Oliva

A young man with big aspirations sets out on a very curious and unique path to realize his dream of becoming an astronaut.


Fostering Connections

Best Documentary: Lauren Major

Determined to break a vicious cycle of abuse, a young mother fights to create new beginnings for her biological and adopted children with the support of an innovative, multigenerational community.

pregnant belly close up in water birth  

The Good Work

Best Cinematography - Undergraduate: Savannah Cannistraro

An intimate journey from womb to world- we witness woman in her most natural, animalistic form.


A Woman Apart

Best Visual Effects: Mary Omelina

A stop-motion animated film about a woman in a small village facing what is to be the last morning of her life.



Best Ensemble Cast: Jonathan Leach

Meet Tara, a prototypical college student exploring her sexuality. After facing rejection a costume party, Tara instigates a clumsy, drunken hookup with her best friend since middle school.



Best Animated Film: Shane Beam

An audition for a conditioner commercial becomes an otherworldly psychogenic experience.



Best Experimental Film:
Magdalena Hernandez

A man burns inside as his regrets and feelings keep haunting him.


Cry It Out

Best Short Film Writing: John Klein

As apparitions threaten to unravel Martin's sanity, he must confront his own fears of fatherhood, protect his baby boy, and face the demons haunting his nights.


Talk Talk

Best Directing - Undergraduate:
Eden Ames

An infatuation turns deadly when a Jekyll-and-Hyde femme fatale becomes entangled with a suspicious detective.

Other Winners

Helmut P. Epp Vanguard Award

‪‪‪‪Gorden Glenn

Voice and Vision Award

‪‪‪‪Ward Crockett

‪‪‪‪Savannah Cannistraro

Classic Cinemas Student Film Award

‪‪‪‪Robert Hemlich - Blow Job

Best Picture Jury Award

‪‪‪‪Shane Beam - Conditioner

Best Picture Jury Award Gard

‪‪‪‪Ward Crockett - There Is No Door

Judges' Choice

‪‪‪‪Jens Ericson - Red Line Lounge

Dave Russell, drummer and de facto leader of the Red Line Lounge Band, shares his musical aspirations and personal philosophy.

Best MFA Thesis Feature Screenplay

‪‪‪‪Robert Riley - The Man From The Deep

Best MFA Thesis TV Pilot

‪‪‪‪Katie Grotzinger - Minnie Noir


Premiere 2016 Award Winners

network hardware  

The Farm on Rice Lake Roady

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.


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.



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.

Other Winners

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.

man in bed  

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.

Other Winners

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.