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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Thomas Burns, a 1998 graduate of Reed College, was one of eleven film students from eight U.S. universities who were honored June 9 as winners in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 29th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. The winners participated in several days of industry-related activities and social events prior to the awards presentation ceremony at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Burns won a bronze medal in documentary for "Revolutions Per Minute," a film that explores the fate of vinyl records in the digital age. He graduated from Reed in 1998 as a history major, having written a senior thesis on the Russian Revolution. Shortly after that he began work at a grantmaking organization in the South Caucasus of the former Soviet Union. When that position ended, he began work in Tbilisi, Georgia, as writer and editor of the magazine Tbilisi Pastimes. He is currently in a graduate program in documentary film and video at Stanford University.

Following is the full list of this year’s winners:

Alternative Category

Gold Medal: "For Our Man," Kazuo Ohno, Columbia University, New York

Silver Medal: "Island to Island," Soopum Sohn, New York University

Animation Category

Gold Medal: "Passing Moments," Don Phillips Jr., Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida

Silver Medal: "The Velvet Tigress," Jen Sachs, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

Bronze Medal: "Shadowplay," Dan Blank, New York University

Documentary Category

Gold Medal: "Moving House," Pin Pin Tan, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Silver Medal: "Family Values," Eva Saks, New York University

Bronze Medal: "Revolutions Per Minute," Thomas Burns, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Narrative Category

Gold Medal: "The Wormhole," Jessica Sharzer, New York University

Silver Medal: "Barrier Device," Grace Lee, University of California, Los Angeles

Bronze Medal: "Sophie," Helen Haeyoung Lee, University of Texas at Austin

Honorary Foreign Film

"Feeding Desire," Martin Strange-Hansen, National Film School of Denmark in Copenhagen

While the U.S.-based students knew they would each receive an award, the level of that award — gold, silver or bronze — was not revealed until the ceremony. Besides trophies, gold medal winners receive $5,000; silver medal winners are awarded $3,000 and bronze medal winners take home $2,000.

These students first competed in one of three regional competitions. Each region was permitted to send the Academy as many as three films in each of the four categories. The finalist films were then screened and voted on by Academy members to select the winners.

The Student Academy Awards were established by the Academy in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level.