The Society for Visual Anthropology screens the best ethnographic films and video productions at our annual SVA Film & Media Festival, held in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting. This gives independent filmmakers as well as distributors broad access to a market of several thousand anthropologists and educators.

Ethnographic film and video defined broadly as works created as the result of ethnographic fieldwork or those which use, are informed by, or illustrate the principles of anthropological theory or methods.

For more information about American Anthropology Associations and its annual meetings, please visit:

2022 SVA Film & Media Festival Co-Directors:
Dr. Harjant Gill (Towson University)
Dr. Jennifer Cool (University of Southern California)

The SVAFMF bestows a number of awards each year, including the festival’s highest recognition, the Jean Rouch Award given for collaborative and participatory work. Other category based awards include Best Feature, Best Short, Best Student Film (graduate and undergraduate) and Best Interactive Media (websites, games, installations, etc..).

Jean Rouch Award: 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).

Best Feature: The Best Feature award recognizes the film longer than forty-five minutes that best embodies the ethnographic inquiry and cinematic craft celebrated through the Festival

Best Short: The Best Short award recognizes the film shorter than forty-five minutes that best embodies the ethnographic inquiry and cinematic craft celebrated through the Festival

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

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

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

For the past several decades, the Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film and Media Festival has screened outstanding work by students, professional anthropologists, and professional filmmakers at the American Anthropological Association’s Annual meetings.
Historically, the SVAFMF is scheduled in conjunction with and screen on site of the Annual AAA meeting. However, in 2020 and 2021, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic related restrictions, the SVAFMF was held virtually. This year (2022) we hope to meet back up again in person at the Washington State Convention in Seattle where we will screen films followed by Q&As and discussions with filmmakers, and the host annual awards ceremony.

We also plan to continue featuring a virtual component of SVAFMF which will also include Q&As and discussions with filmmakers conducted via Zoom. Because of the positive response last year to the decentralized and broadly reaching format of the virtual festival, we would want to continue giving filmmakers the opportunity to participate in the virtual component of the festival, to be screened during the month of November through an online (password protected) platform. Filmmakers can choose whether to participate in person and/or virtually.

The SVA Film & Media Festival accepts entries in the following categories:
• Shorts - works less than 45 minutes in length
• Feature length - works greater than 45 minutes in length
• Interactive Media - websites, installations, 360 VR videos (please contact organizers with questions)

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

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

Submissions designated as "student work" must have been completed while the submitter was enrolled in an accredited educational institution. Proof of student status may be requested. Submissions in noncompliance may be disqualified without refund.

Submissions by an "SVA Member" must have a named Society for Visual Anthropology member in a key production role (filmmaker, photographer, or director) or as the central narrator/interlocutor in the film. SVA Members may submit films to any category for the reduced fee. SVA members can write to us for a reduced rate. Pieces made in consultation with an anthropologist should be submitted as regular films.

Submissions in noncompliance will be disqualified without refund.

The festival jury, comprised of five anthropologists and 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 as careful attention as high budget or longer works.

Filmmakers will be notified about the status of their submissions (via email provided on FilmFreeway) by September 1st 2022

FilmFreeway is the official and only way to submit entries for the SVA Film & Media Festival. If communicating with us via email at, please always include your tracking number in your email.

Overall Rating
  • 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
  • pretty much a complete failure. No clear communication before and during the festival. an organised panel without prior information or questions shared that at the end didn't even take place because the conveners did not show up (or were late for over 30min). I had expected more...

    November 2021
  • Mohammad Salimirad

    I am very happy that my film was screened at this festival.

    November 2021
  • Elemental Productions

    A wonderful festival with friendly programming staff and an interesting academic audience.

    December 2019