“Filthy Dreamers,” a documentary by UCF students about the challenges to academic freedoms at Florida State College for Women in the 1920s, won an Emmy on Wednesday at the 37th College Television Awards in Los Angeles.

The top film in its category was created by students in the 2013 and 2015 advanced documentary workshop class of The Burnett Honors College. This was the first time a UCF film was nominated for a college Emmy, and it beat out films from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

The movie is about Florida lawmakers and religious activists in 1928 who sought to ban classes and books on evolution at the school that later became Florida State University. Professors and college administrators were accused of “corrupting young women’s minds” and critics called the students “filthy dreamers.” Ultimately the college prevailed.

The UCF student filmmakers researched, wrote and filmed the documentary. They said they wanted to inform viewers about the history of censorship on campuses because nearly 100 years later, public figures and activists are still trying to control academic curriculums.

Robert Cassanello, an associate professor of history, and Lisa Mills, an associate professor of film in the School of Visual Arts & Design, were faculty advisors for the project. Connie Lester, director of the history department’s RICHES (Regional Initiative for Collecting the History, Experiences and Stories of Central Florida) was the narrator, and voice-over acting included theatre associate professor Christopher Niess and journalism associate professor Steve Collins. 

Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator whose mother was among the so-called “filthy dreamers,” also was featured in the film.

This was the third documentary produced by honors students after Alvin Wang, dean of The Burnett Honors College, sought a collaborative effort with the College of Arts & Humanities in 2010.

The 2013 students involved were: Will Chorvat, Jason Clarke, Carter Howard, Beverly Nwokoye, Amber Pietrowski, Rachel White and Orlando Porro. The 2015 students were Ernesto Calderon, Louis-Christophe Fortier, Kristin Keefer, Ramsey Khawaja, Derek Loucks, Carmen Malca, Shannon Specie, Antony Zeng, Nichole Santana, Emma Duncan, Tiffany Campbell, Alex McKeel, Kristina League and Michael Reed.

Loucks, League and Khawaja traveled to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles to accept the Emmy. They also participated in a summit and development workshops at the Television Academy with industry professionals.

To see the trailer for “Filthy Dreamers,” go to https://vimeo.com/106450920.