Student Filmmaker Minkyu Kang Wins a DGA Student Film Award

Jessie Shohfi
January 05, 2023

Film Student Minkyu Kang recently won a DGA Student Film Award for his short, Children of Light

This past December was the 28th annual Directors Guild of America Student Film Awards for African American, Asian American, Latino & Women directors. The awards were created in 1995 “to address the severe underrepresentation of directors of color and women in feature filmmaking by honoring, encouraging, and bringing attention to exceptional diverse directors in film schools and universities across the country.” Eligible films must have been made in the 2021/2022 school year (September 2021 through August 2022), and produced as a student project under the supervision of a faculty member. Only films in which students hold every major crew position are considered for the prize.

“We are proud to see the high caliber of diverse talent emerging from the 28th Annual DGA Student Film Awards,” said DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter.  “Our congratulations to this extraordinary group of honorees and best wishes on their future endeavors.” Previous winners of the DGA Student Film Award have gone on to major critical and commercial success, including Ryan Coogler, Patricia Riggen, and John Chu.

Kang, along with the other East Region winners, was selected by blue ribbon DGA member panels as the best in the Asian American Student Filmmakers category for the East Region. He was honored at the award ceremony and screening at the DGA’s theater in New York last week, where winners of the DGA Student Film Awards in each category each received a $2,500 prize.

Children of Light, which was supported by a Katharina Otto-Bernstein ’92 (’86 CC) Production Grant, is a twenty-minute drama set in South Korea. It is based on a true story from the 1950s and 60s, which has haunting repercussions in contemporary South Korea. In the years after World War II, the Korean Military Government opened operations at a place called “Seongnam Academy.” Presumably a reform academy for wayward boys, Seongnam was in actuality a forced labor camp, exploiting children who were taken off the street in order to revitalize the flagging economy.

Though the characters in the movie are all fictional, Kang says he was inspired by Seongnam Academy and other detention centers. “When I first heard about the historical event in the 1950s, I was deeply emotional, and empathized with the victimized children. I wanted to echo their stories, but making it into a film was challenging. However, after a long production period, the film was finally completed and honorably screened at the DGA theater. I have done what I could never have done on my own with so much support and love. I wish to share this honor with all my professors, donors, collaborators, and family, who always gave me courage and believed in me.”

Kang is a director, screenwriter, and producer based in both the United States and South Korea. He received his BA in Film and TV Production at the University of Southern California in 2012. After two-years of military service in South Korea, he worked in the local film and advertising industry, during which time he directed short films, TV commercials, and art videos, which have been selected and screened at multiple international film festivals, including Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival, Bogota Short Film Festival, and San Diego International Film Festival.