Two AT&T Film Awards Winners Qualify For Oscar Consideration in 2020


Two winners from the 2019 AT&T Film Awards are finding even more success with their films as the year progresses—both have qualified for Oscar consideration and are in contention for the Best Live Action Short Film Shortlist for the 92nd Academy Awards. 

The Chef and Things That Fall will both be in consideration for the category’s shortlist this week along with the rest of the year’s top short films, and both have received a number of honors throughout the year on the road to their Oscar recognition.

Qualifying for this category requires a weeklong commercial theatrical release, winning an award at a qualifying film festival, or winning a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Student Academy Award. 

The Chef, directed by Hao Zheng, won Best Futuristic Film in the 2019 AT&T Film Awards. It also won a silver medal in the Student Academy Awards domestic narrative category and Best International Film at Show Me Shorts Film Festival, making it doubly qualified for the short film Oscar. The story follows a Chinese chef, Pu, who is ordered to teach a humanoid how to cook before the android takes over his job. The story explores issues of culture, race, and education, as well as how precision and perfection are far from all you need to prepare the best dishes. 

“To be honest, when we were making the film, we didn’t really have a firm goal,” said Zheng. “We were just thinking, we just want our film to be seen by as many as people as possible. For us, our hard work has finally paid off.” 

In addition to the above awards, the film has also been an official selection at ten film festivals and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 86358 Short Film Festival, Best Director at the New Era Film Festival, and Best Actor at the 13th South Dakota Film Festival. 

Things That Fall, written and directed by Sy Huq, and and produced with Rafaella Biscayn and Tommy McNamara, was a runner-up in the 2019 AT&T Film Awards New Forms of Storytelling category as well as a winner of the Stage 32 Short Film Contest. Using pioneering sound design technology, the short follows an unexpected connection between a hard-of-hearing woman and a mentally ill man who suffers from auditory hallucinations—and what happens when they meet in the quiet of a library. 

“I’m completely ecstatic,” said Huq. Extremely grateful is the most prominent feeling of them all. To be able to utilize this film in a way that we are heard and to impact people through this medium is what has mattered most to me.”

“One of the things that keeps blowing us away along the way on this journey is the incredible amount of support that we’ve been receiving from not only filmmakers and film lovers, but also all of these organizations and associations,” said Biscayn. “And it’s truly blown us away to realize we’re doing something good and raising awareness.”


Both filmmakers said that their involvement with the AT&T Film Awards was not only an honor, but also an important moment in the success of their film and their careers at large.

“Edward Schmidt at AT&T really championed our film and put in front of the right eyes during the SHAPE event,” said Huq. “The AT&T Awards were there at the very beginning and it really did act as a catapult to slingshot us into the public light.”

Academy members will vote for their favorite films between December 6 and December 10. The 10-film shortlist will be announced on December 16, while the final nominations will be announced on January 13. The Oscars will be presented on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. 

The AT&T Film Awards recognize rising filmmakers with $60,000 in money and prizes as well as opportunities to grow their career.  Previous winners have gone on to be official selections at the Sundance Film Festival, won awards from top-tier film festivals, and found airtime on HBO. These are the first two films to receive Oscar consideration. 

Submissions for the 2020 AT&T Film Awards are open through April 30, 2020 . Categories include Spanish-language, Youth Film Concept, Merged or Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mobile/360/Drone. Complete information regarding submission rules, deadlines, and eligibility are available at

Read more about the 2019 AT&T Film Award Winners. 

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Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell is an editor and content strategist at Submittable. She’s also a writer and stand-up comedian who gets rejected via Submittable all the time. You can read her comedy criticism at Forbes, follow her on Twitter, or learn more about her creative work on her website.