The Society for Visual Anthropology screens the best of ethnographic film at the annual SVA Film & Media Festival. The Festival is held as part of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, giving filmmakers and distributors broad access to an audience of thousands of anthropologists, educators, and other attendees.

The 2024 AAA meeting will be held in Tampa, Florida, November 20–23. This will be the in-person venue for the SVA Film & Media Festival as well. PRAXIS is the 2024 AAA conference theme.

Ethnographic film and media can be defined broadly as works that emerge through ethnographic fieldwork or that use, are informed by, illustrate, or evoke concepts and principles of anthropological theory, methods, or practice.

For more information, please visit:
− Society for Visual Anthropology:
− SVA Film & Media Festival:
− American Anthropology Association:

2024 SVA Film & Media Festival Director:
Dr. Jennifer Cool (University of Southern California)

The Jean Rouch Award recognizes films that make exemplary use of ethnofiction techniques or that are produced in a collaborative manner embodying the spirit of Rouch's "anthropologie partagée" (shared anthropology).

The Best Feature award recognizes the film longer than 45 minutes that best embodies the ethnographic inquiry and cinematic craft celebrated through the Festival.

The Best Short award recognizes the film shorter than 45 minutes that best embodies the ethnographic inquiry and cinematic craft celebrated through the Festival.

The Best Student Film award recognizes the most outstanding film made by a student enrolled in an accredited educational institution.

The Best Interactive Media award recognizes media work—including VR installations, iDocs, websites, games, podcasts, and other media—that best embodies the creative and collaborative spirit of multimodal anthropologies.

In some years, Special Mentions may be awarded in each category to recognize the merit of exceptional work that advances visual anthropology and ethnographic filmmaking.


– Features: films with a running time over 45 minutes.

– Shorts: films with a running time less than 45 minutes.

– Interactive media: websites, podcasts, iDocs, games or other submissions that can be streamed online are the best fit for the Festival. We do no generally have the means to program multi-channel installations at the conference venue where the Festival takes place in a different city each year. We encourage those making VR, AR, and other multimodal projects to submit to the SVA Visual Research Conference instead:

All submissions must have been completed on or after January 1, 2021. Projects may originate from anywhere in the world. There is no premiere requirement and projects that already have distribution may be submitted.

While the vast majority of submissions are documentaries, the festival accepts experimental, narrative, and other film genres as long as they fall within the broad category of ethnographic media.

Students & SVA Members

Special consideration and fee reductions may be given for works created by students and current members of the Society for Visual Anthropology.

Student submissions must have been completed while the filmmaker was enrolled in an accredited educational institution. Proof of student status may be requested. Submissions in noncompliance may be disqualified without refund.

SVA member submissions must have a Society for Visual Anthropology member in a key production role (usually producer or director) or as the central narrator or interlocutor in the film. SVA members may submit films to any category for a reduced fee upon request. Submissions in noncompliance can be disqualified without refund.


The festival jury—comprised of anthropologists, filmmakers, and/or film scholars—selects work to be included in the festival on the basis of anthropological relevance and value to the field. Low budget and shorter works receive the same careful attention as high budget and longer works.

Notification of Acceptance

Filmmakers will be notified about the status of their submissions from the email address no later than September 1, 2024.

All entries must be submitted on FilmFreeway. All correspondence must include the FilmFreeway tracking number.

Overall Rating
  • It was a great experience. I am very proud to be a part of this and hope to come back on the future with another film. Thank you very much Jennifer, Christian and entire team for this opportunity!

    November 2023
  • Campbell Dalglish

    A great festival for ethnographic filmmakers, smoothly operated, efficiently run and organized with 15 minute Q&As after each screening. Meeting scholars in the discipline was inspiring and created valuable feed back for future films and festivals. Most important was meeting other filmmakers in the festival. Very proud to be a part of this and hope to come back in the future with another film.

    November 2023
  • The SVAFMF was my first-ever in-person film fest. I met so many people within my field and had the honor of being presented alongside so many filmmakers with far more experience. The organizers worked hard to make the event stand out among the chaos that is the AAA convention. The QA moderators did a great job at engaging the filmmakers with the audience and the ladies working the projectors worked extremely hard at making the fest run for 8 hours a day for its 4 day run. I will remember this fest forever and I hope to return to it in the future.

    November 2022
  • Juan Castrillon

    This year's festival was a great opportunity to meet scholars and creators I always wanted to talk to. Very rich selection of audiovisual works!

    February 2022
  • it was great experience.Thank you very much.

    November 2021