Patrick Vollrath's film Alles wird gut (Everything will be OK) came third in the Student Oscars awarded in September 2015.
The short follows a divorced father who collects his eight-year-old daughter as usual but ends up taking her on a fateful journey.
But now it's been nominated alongside some of 2015's biggest hit films including Mad Max and The Martian for the real Oscar contest.
"We all hope that this will be a big boost to his career, it will be a great calling-card for him in the industry," Katja Jäger of the Vienna Film Academy told The Local.
It's the crowning glory for a film that has already won a slew of awards across Europe.
Born in central Germany, 30-year-old Vollrath trained in Munich as a video editor in the mid-2000s before entering the Vienna Academy in 2008.
'Alles wird gut' was originally produced as the final project to complete his studies – but has taken Vollrath far, far further.
"We're extremely happy. After winning the first Student Academy Award in the history of the Film Academy in September, now this is a great distinction for both the film-maker and for us," Jäger said.
Vollrath said the experience of attending the Oscars is comparable to the World Cup. He said he had “repressed” any notion that his film might be nominated but now that it had happened it was “amazingly beautiful” and he looked forward to “being there with my team and having a beer”.
"I'm German, but my team is almost exclusively from Austria, and the money came from Austria, where we were encouraged and supported," Vollrath said, adding that he’s happy to be known as an "Austrian-German director" and enjoys living and working in Austria.
It's the first time a student at the Vienna Film Academy has been nominated – although the school isn't without a history at the Academy Awards.
Jäger studied in the class of renowned Austrian director Michael Haneke, who himself won an Oscar for Amour in 2012 and has two Palme d'Or awards from the Cannes film festival to his name.
'Alles wird gut' has also been nominated for the Austrian Film Prize, which will be awarded next Wednesday in Grafenegg.