Newhouse Television, Radio and Film Master’s Alumnus Honored for Documentary Featuring Star Syracuse Volleyball Player 

A short documentary film about a star Syracuse volleyball player directed by Tien Tran G’ 23 won a 2023 Clio Sports Gold Award for best Student Film.  

“Home” was the documentary directorial debut for Tran. The film followed outside hitter Polina Shemanova G’ 23, a two-time All-America Honorable Mention from St. Petersburg, Russia, and how she struggled with the definition of “home” as she balanced her life at Syracuse with her family life back in Russia.  

A student standing at a basketball game holding a camera
Tien Tran

Organizers have described the film as a “reflective and visual journey that transcends sports.”  

Clio Sports honors the best in sports advertising and marketing around the world. “Home” will be eligible for a prestigious Grand Clios Award at the Clio Sports Awards ceremony on Dec. 6 in New York City. 

Tran, a graduate of the television, radio and film (TRF) master’s program in the sports media and communications track, followed a similar path to graduate study at Newhouse as Shemanova, a graduate of the broadcast and digital journalism program who is now an assistant coach at Syracuse.  

Tran and Shemanova finished their graduate studies in August. Tran is from Hanoi, Vietnam, where he is currently working as a freelancer. 

“As someone who was living away from my home country, I personally relate a lot with Polina and that was one of reasons why I wanted to share her story,” Tran said. 

Tran started the film in a sports documentary course taught by Jordan Kligerman, a visiting TRF assistant teaching professor with the Newhouse Sports Media Center. He produced and finished the project this past spring with 44 Films, a partnership between the Sports Media Center and the Syracuse University Department of Athletics. 

A volleyball player stands in front of the American flag on the volleyball court
A screenshot from the documentary shows Polina Shemanova on the volleyball court.

Tran, who has a bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from Manhattan College, said he was always interested in different types of storytelling, but hadn’t tried sports documentary until taking Kligerman’s class.  

“I’ve always had different stories and concepts that I wanted to try, but never truly had a platform or the help I needed to bring those ideas to life,” Tran said. “This is why Professor Kligerman’s course, 44Films and the Sports Media Center office were so important in the process of making this film.”  

“Home” also won the Award of Excellence in the Sports Competition category in the Broadcaster Educators Association’s Creative Competition.