JASNA Southwest has announced the winners of our fourth annual Young Filmmakers Contest in two age categories: Under 20 and Over 20. Selected from an unprecedented volume of entries, each of the winning entries explored the characters, books, mores and life of Jane Austen in films of five minutes or less.

Winners in the Under 20 category are:
First place: Thomas Fitzgerald, 16, of Warwick, Rhode Island. Fitzgerald’s film titled “Handsome, Clever and Rich” follows a young woman in contemporary times whose life begins to mirror Emma’s in both expected and unexpected ways.
Second place: Ellie Cagle, 17, of Lebanon, Tennessee. Cagle bravely recreated a prom scene as backdrop to the meeting of Lizzie and William in her film, “A Certain Step Towards Falling in Love.”
Third place: Sajween Khan, 18, of Irving, Texas. With a nod to the significance of letter-writing in Austen’s life, Khan’s “Letters to Cassandra” created an intimate “what if” letter in which the author reveals hints of her works and characters.

The Over 20 winners are:
First place: Jillian Davis, 27, of North Hollywood, California, and Yolanda Rodriguez, 29, of South Pasadena, California. The filmmaking duo presented “Jane Austen Virtual Book Club,” a spirited anachronistic Zoom event in which characters from various Austen novels discuss the merits of a particular love story.
Second place: Lydia Smith, 26, West Sacramento, California. Soaring cinematography and original writing distinguishes “A Letter to Jane,” a tribute to the humanness of both Austen and those who love her.
Third place: Courtney Birnbaum, 29, Burbank, California. Original animation in “Morland & Mishaps” brings an awkward Catherine Morland through her first ball and into the future with the man of her dreams.

The judges included The Jane Austen Book Club screenwriter/director Robin Swicord; Los Angeles Times (retired) film critic Kenneth Turan; actress and writer Ashley Clements (star of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries); “Black Girl in a Big Dress” actress and writer Aydrea Walden; Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict novelist Laurie Viera Rigler; and Emmy-winning executive producer and director Thomas Rigler.

The films will be screened at a free Zoom event on Sunday, January 24, at 11 a.m. Pacific time, followed by a Q&A with the winners and judges. Registration is open now. The six short films will premiere on our YouTube channel on January 24. Past winners are also on our YouTube page. Learn more about our Young Filmmakers Contest.