Still from Silento

Columbia Filmmakers Take Home Four of Eight Awards at 2021 DGA Awards

BY Felix van Kann, February 18, 2021

Columbia filmmakers celebrated another successful year at the 26th Annual DGA Student Film Awards for African American, Asian American, Latino and women directors. After taking home prizes in the past editions, Columbia filmmakers won four of the eight eastern regional honors of the prestigious award. 


Alumnus Esteban Garcia Vernaza '20 took home the Best Latino Filmmaker Award in the eastern region for his short film Silento, written and directed by him and produced by alumna Susie Jean Kim '19. Alumna Mariana Saffon '19 was awarded the Jury Award in the same category for her award-winning short Entre tú y Milagros, directed by her, co-written by her and alumna Nathalie Álvarez Mesén '19 and produced by Saffon and student Jorge Granados Ross. Alumna Constance Tsang '20 won the Jury Award in the Best Asian American Filmmaker section for her short film Beau which she directed and co-wrote with alumnus Tony Yang '20. Lastly, student Shae Xhu won the DGA Award for Best Woman Student Filmmaker in the East Region for her film Duet, written and directed by Xhu and produced by alumna Chuxin Huo '20.


Garcia Vernanza’s Silento is set in the beginnings of the 1950’s Colombian Civil war, where a girl must protect her little sister as an armed group invades their farm. 


In Saffon’s Entre tú y Milagros, 15-year-old Milagros’ world still revolves around her mother’s affection. An unexpected encounter with death will make her question her own existence.


Tsang’s Beau follows an emerging artist by the same name who is about to unveil her latest installation. Her lover Paloma, is a devoted supporter. Her final breakthrough hinges on the success of this piece and soon this pressure causes a rife in the two women's relationship. 


Duet by Shae Xhu is about an unspoken romance that inevitably resurfaces when a high school music teacher meets an old colleague again and decides for the first time to perform as piano duet partners after they’ve long since drifted apart.

The DGA Student Film Awards for African American, Asian American, Latino and women directors are designed to honor, encourage and bring attention to exceptional diverse directors in film schools and universities across the country and have highlighted hundreds of African American, Asian American, Latino and women filmmakers since 1995, many of whom have gone on to become successful directors.

Still from Duet