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:

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..).

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 Meeting.
Historically, the Festival is scheduled in conjunction with and screen on site of the Annual Meeting. However, last year, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Festival was held virtually. This year because of the continued concern for public health, the Festival will again be held virtually.

The 2021 Festival will take place over the course of 10 days (November 1-10): one week of screenings, and three days of Q&As, discussions with filmmakers, and an awards ceremony, all conducted via Zoom. Because of the positive response last year to the decentralized and broadly reaching format of the festival, we would like to allow for the possibility of the films selected for the Festival to be screened for a full month – it will be the filmmakers’ choice whether or not to participate beyond the Festival week.
The SVA Film & Media Festival accepts entries in the following categories:
• Shorts - works less than 40 minutes in length
• Feature length - works greater than 40 minutes in length
• Interactive Media - websites, installations, games (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 reduced entry fees are 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 submitted as created 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 free of charge. Pieces made in consultation with an anthropologist should be submitted as regular films. Submissions in noncompliance will be disqualified without refund.
Early Bird Deadline: April 1
Regular Deadline: April 10
Late Deadline: April 30
Student Deadline: May 10

The festival jury, comprised of 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 July 15th.

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
  • it was great experience.Thank you very much.

    November 2021
  • Mohammad Salimirad

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

    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
  • Elemental Productions

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

    December 2019
  • Jonathan Berman

    Super cool and dedicated grass roots festival, happens at same time as American Anthropology Association. It was great to show "Calling All Earthling" there and expand the fest -- and minds? :) Think D.A. Pennebaker meets Margaret Mead + University people. Special event, thanks to all.

    January 2019