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 2023 AAA meeting will be held jointly with the Canadian Anthropology Society/société canadienne d’anthropologie (CASCA) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Canada. This will be the in-person venue for the SVA Film & Media Festival as well. The 2023 conference theme is "Transitions."
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: societyforvisualanthropology.org
− SVA Film & Media Festival: svafilmandmediafestival.org
− American Anthropology Association: americananthro.org
− AAA/CASCA Annual meeting (Nov 15-19, 2023): annualmeeting.americananthro.org
2023 SVA Film & Media Festival Co-Directors:
Dr. Jennifer Cool (University of Southern California)
Dr. Christian Hammons (University of Colorado Boulder)
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.
Categories, Origin, Premiere and Distribution Status
– A feature is a film with a running of time of more than 45 minutes.
– A short is a film with a running time of less than 45 minutes.
– Interactive media is any media work other than a film, including VR installations, iDocs, websites, games, and podcasts.
All submissions must have been completed on or after January 1, 2020. 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 may be disqualiﬁed without refund.
The festival jury—comprised of ﬁve members who are 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 svaﬁlmfestival@gmail.com no later than September 1, 2023.
All entries must be submitted on FilmFreeway. All correspondence must include the FilmFreeway tracking number.