Help Choose the Winner of the IES Abroad Film Festival [Deadline Passed]

Films that capture the essence of study abroad are hard to come by.

Which is exactly why IES Abroad launched their Study Abroad Film Festival last year. Now in its second year, 45 student films submissions have been narrowed down to 3 finalists by an esteemed jury—and we want to invite you to cast your vote for the winner!

Read on to learn more about the Film Festival and a juror’s passion for filmmaking— then watch the finalist films and vote for your favorite!


Dr. Octavio di Leo
Dr. Octavio di Leo

An Interview with Film Festival Juror, Dr. Octavio di Leo


Q: What is your role at IES Abroad and in the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival?


A: I’ve been with IES Abroad since 2003 and am the Center Director for IES Abroad in Rio de Janeiro. I’m also a film writer and producer—my first documentary film, Stolica/Chair, was presented at the International Peace Event in Sarajevo to commemorate the 100 years since the beginning of World War I and was also screened across Italy and the U.S.


Q: What is IES Abroad’s Study Abroad Film Festival?


A: IES Abroad’s Film Festival, the first of its kind in study abroad, asks our students to capture the spirit of study abroad in 25 minutes or less.

Students submit films to us online and then the jury (including an Oscar-nominated Paris alum) ranks each film based on a set of specific criteria. Finalists are then selected based on the jury rankings and those finalists’ films are made public on Facebook for online voting.

The winner is awarded $1,000 and is flown to Chicago for a screening of his/her film at IES Abroad’s Annual Conference in October.


Q: What have you found most rewarding about being involved with the Film Festival?


A: The opportunity of seeing through the students’ eyes what they experience in places I have never been to. It is also a chance of discovering new talents, which in some cases may inspire a life or career change.


Octavio at work on his newest film, A Travessia (The Journey)
Octavio at work on his newest film, A Travessia (The Journey)


Q: How has film enriched your life?


A: Film is an all-encompassing art that combines different languages (image, sound, writing, editing, etc.) and puts together people from all walks of life to complete a vision. This complex and diverse medium continues to give me hope for the success of a collective work, no matter how difficult it might be. At the end of the day, film transforms both the viewer and the maker.


Q: How do you believe film contributes to a student’s study abroad experience?


A: I think that students gain a new perspective of themselves while producing a film abroad. The process is too challenging to leave them indifferent, and the product can reach a vast public in a short period of time.


Q: What advice would you give to young filmmakers today?


A: Be good listeners and stay open because the story will lead them to the script, not the other way around.


Q: Who are this year’s finalists? What are their films like?


A: This year’s finalists are:


It’s Okay by Kyle Rodriguez (Buenos Aires, Spring 2015)

A beautiful exploration of studying abroad through the lens of challenges that are less often discussed yet very powerful.



Abroad Sweet Abroad by Adrienne Picciotto (Rome, Spring 2015)

A student’s poignant reflection on her semester in Rome through photographs and spoken word.


Bringing Light to Egoli by Larisa Manescu (South Africa, Spring 2015)

A documentary that follows a team of students from University of Texas – Austin as they implement sustainable light sources in the South African township of Egoli.


Each of these films depicts an authentic, yet unique, facet of the study abroad experience and demonstrates what studying abroad means to our students.


Q: How do you vote in the Film Festival?


A: Film Festival voting will take place on the IES Abroad Facebook page starting September 1, 2015 and will close September 15, 2015 at 12:00 noon CDT.


Participants are allowed to vote once, and the film with the most votes on Facebook at the close of voting will win the Film Festival.

Vote today!


About IES Abroad

IES Abroad offers more than 120 study abroad programs in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Latin America for college students—take a virtual tour of some of our programs today! From our headquarters in Chicago to our 30+ global locations, we work toward the common goal of providing once-in-a-lifetime educational adventures for college-aged students. Learn more at

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