By Anthony Breznican
June 08, 2012 at 11:21 PM EDT
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

They don’t get an Oscar just yet, but the winners of the Student Academy Awards certainly get a boost as they set out to tell their stories on the big screen.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors a wide selection of student films each year, and this 39th class includes tales both harrowing, heartbreaking and hilarious — from a man placing a desperate bet on a horse to save his dog, to a border patrol agent robbing a cartel to save her own life. The winners in each category will be honored Saturday night, where gold, silver, and bronze rankings will be announced.

Have a look for yourself after the jump — you could  these names again soon at a theater near you.

Alternative category

The Reality Clock

Made by Amanda Tasse of the University of Southern California, The Reality Clock is a 3-D, stop-motion animated experimental film goes inside the mind of an aging watchmaker as dementia warps his sense of reality.

Animation category


The 2-D, sketch-animated Western Eyrie, from David Wolter of the California Institute of the Arts, tells the story of a young shepherd boy who reluctantly fulfills his daily duties, only to find that a large eagle is swooping down to prey on his flock.

The Jockstrap Raiders

In this film from Mark Nelson of the University of California, Los Angeles, The Jockstrap Raiders are a group of rejects from the military during World War I who must band together to save England from the invading forces of the Kaiser.

My Little Friend

This computer animated film calls to mind classic Looney Tunes conflict with its story of man vs. (smarter) beast. Eric Prah of Ringling College of Art and Design documents the battle for crumbs between a hungry hobo and a shrewd pigeon.


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Documentary Category

Dying Green

Ellen Tripler of American University explores the way 20th century funeral rituals and embalming pollute the earth, and focuses on new ways people are choosing to be buried in environmentally friendly ways.

Hiro: A Story of Japanese Internment

Keiko Wright of New York University goes personal with this documentary about her grandfather Hiroshi Hoshizaki’s experiences during World War II, when his family was uprooted from their Los Angeles home and sent to live in a Japanese-American internment camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Lost Country

Three Cuban exiles recall their experiences fighting back against Fidel Castro’s revolution in this doc from Heather Burky of the Art Institute of Jacksonville.


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Narrative Category


A tough young kid and an old woman in a nursing home develop an unlikely friendship in this tale from Justin Tipping of the American Film Institute.


A seriously ailing Border Patrol officer decides to rob a cartel to get the money she needs to save herself in this grim thriller from Ryan Prows of the American Film Institute.


Mark Raso of Columbia University made this romantic thriller about a woman with a drug problem and her fiance, who journey to a snowy mountain cabin to help her recover only to find their shelter buried beneath a massive avalanche.


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Foreign Category

For Elsie

United Kingdom

A Russian gangster forces a piano teacher to teach his daughter to play Beethoven’s “Für Elise” in one day in this drama by David Winstone of the University of Westminster.

Of Dogs and Horses


Thomas Stuber of Film Academy Baden-Wüerttemberg tells this story of an unemployed man who bets his tiny savings on a horse to raise the money he needs to save his ailing dog.

The Swing of the Coffin Maker


A mentally disabled son and his carpenter father repeatedly clash as they manufacture coffins in this drama from Elmar Imanov, of The International Film School Cologne. One day the father discovers he is dying, and seeks to find a measure of happiness with his son before he is gone.

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