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:

Awards & Prizes

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 Ultra-Short, and Best Student Film (graduate and undergraduate).

Rules & Terms

(Please read carefully before submitting)

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.

The 116th American Anthropological Association annual meeting and the 2017 SVA Film & Media Festival will be held from November 29 - December 2, 2017, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington DC.

In 2016 we received 179 submissions and we accepted and screened 47 films at our festival in Minneapolis, MN. In total, 30 hours of programming was accepted.


The SVA Film & Media Festival accepts entries in the following categories:
Ultra Shorts - works less than 5 minutes in length
Shorts - works less than 40 minutes in length
Feature length - works greater than 40 minutes in length

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

Special consideration and reduced entry fees are given for works created by students and current members of the Society for Visual Anthropology.

Submissions sent 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 done in consultation with an anthropologist should be submitted as regular films. Submissions in noncompliance may be disqualified without refund.

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 1st.

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.

Please note that you do NOT need to also register a film/video submission on the American Anthropological Association (AAA) website if all you are doing is submitting a film/video/media production through FilmFreeway. Films and media productions chosen for the festival by the jury will be forwarded by the SVA Festival Committee to the AAA Program Committee.

We invite all filmmakers whose films are programed to attend the film festival and conduct a brief Q&A sessions after their films are screened. However, SVAFMF is unable to provide travel support or accommodations for any of its participating filmmakers.

We encourage academic filmmakers attending the SVA Film & Media Festival to register for the AAA meetings, however AAA registration is not mandatory to attend the screenings at the SVA Film & Media Festival.