Stanford filmmaker wins Student Academy Award

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MEG SMAKER, who recently earned an MFA in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford, is among the 15 winners of the 2015 Student Academy Awards. Her entry, Boxeadora is the story of Cuba’s first known female boxer.

Even before the Student Academy Award nod, Boxeadora was enjoying accolades. It won first place for nonfiction at the USA Film Festival. It won the best documentary short jury prize at the South by South-West Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It was an official selection at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival and at FLICKERS, the Rhode Island International Film Festival. In July, it had its Latin American debut at the Guanajuato International Film Festival in Mexico.

According to her bio, Smaker, who received her MFA in June, has done extensive international travel and fieldwork. She’s made films about Somali pirates, underground fighters in Cuba, porn stars, call girls and crystal meth kingpins.

Boxeadora and the other 14 winning films were selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from among 1,686 submissions. Smaker and her fellow winners have been invited to spend a week in Los Angeles. Then, at a ceremony on Sept. 17 in Beverly Hills, the 15 winners will receive gold, silver and bronze placements in their categories.

Smaker is in good company. In 2014, HELEN HOOD SCHEER and J. CHRISTIAN JENSEN, both of the Stanford MFA Class of 2013, won the gold and silver, respectively, in the Student Academy Awards. Earlier this year, Jensen’s film White Earth was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary short category.

While Cuba in well known in the world of international boxing, women in that country are prohibited from competing in the sport. Smaker, a competitive boxer herself, traveled to Cuba the summer after her first year in the Stanford documentary film program to train as a boxer there. That’s where she met NAMIBIA FLORES, who would become the subject of her documentary.

“She’s the best female boxer I’ve ever seen,” Smaker told the BBC.