The Spo​tlight Documentary Film Awards is dedicated to promoting experienced and new documentary filmmakers through a unique and important international film competition. We are searching the globe for the best documentary films on Earth to spotlight and support.

We publicize our award-winning films through various websites, press releases, social media posts and email campaigns to industry leaders, film festival organizers, and more. Our award-winning filmmakers get the recognition they deserve, and can have a better success rate on the sometimes arduous journey through the festival circuit.

Our organization is composed of industry professionals: filmmakers, independent film consultants, film festival organizers, festival programmers and judges who have been in the business nearly 20 years, and share a passion for independent film. Our team has evaluated and judged more than 25,000 independent films from directors and producers just like you. Many of the films were spectacular, and some needed a little tweaking, but they were all magically created with the unwavering spirit of the true independent filmmaker.

The Spotlight Documentary Film Awards is a must for filmmakers who are searching for someone who can give their documentary films the undivided attention they deserve. We can now shine the spotlight on an unlimited amount of talented filmmakers from around the world, and celebrate the art and beauty of filmmaking.

​Our next round of awards will be announced in Decembe 2017. Filmmakers with documentary shorts and features are encouraged to Enter your film to the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Awards & Prizes

From 2015 to 2017, the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards has awarded nearly 700 films from over 40 countries: Antarctica, Aruba, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA.

2017 AWARDS

Various levels of awards are given:

Platinum Awards: ​celebrate truly remarkable films with the highest scores from our panel.

Gold Awards: celebrate incredible films with the second highest scores from our panel.

Silver Awards: awarded to unforgettable films with the third highest scores from our panel.

Bronze Awards: awarded to films with high artistic
achievement with the fourth highest scores from our panel.

First Time Filmmaker Awards of Excellence: first time filmmakers who have created the top films will receive Awards of Excellence.

No Award: Films not receiving an award will be given important and honest feedback from our organization upon request. We know the amount of hard-work it takes to make independent films. This feedback could be essential in getting your film out there for the world to see.

Awards will be announced every year in June and December. The total number of films awarded depend on the number of entries received.

________________________________________________________

Award Winners Receive:

Hi-resolution digital downloads of Spotlight Documentary Film Award Winning Laurels.

A personalized Certificate of Excellence in Filmmaking announcing your award.

Social Media posts, press releases and emails to our extensive database of industry professionals with announcements of your award.

Links from our website, and our sister websites, to your film website, film trailer, and / or sales of your film online.

Filmmaker Spotlight with director photo, bio, and links to chosen websites.

Rules & Terms

RUNNING TIME
Documentary Shorts are 45 minutes and under. Documentary Features are 46 minutes and over.

AWARD ANNOUNCEMENTS
Our next awards will be announced in June, followed by a second round of awards announced in December.

LANGUAGE
Entries in any language other than English or Spanish should be subtitled in either language.

FORMATS​
Entries can only be submitted via FilmFreeway with a secure link of an online copy through vimeo or other host. No hard-copies of films will be considered. Email us with questions.

25 Reviews

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • false
    Lightning Mitchell

    I'm so glad that I had an opportunity to be a part of Spotlight Documentary Film Awards. It was the best show in town for Atlanta, GA. And if you missed out of being a part of it I would advise you to start planning now so you won't be left out in the cold for next year. I am already gearing up for it . Hope to see you there.

    September 2017
  • false
    Sean McElhose

    Great festival! Highly recommended to anyone getting their film out there.

    July 2017
  • false
    Oleg Chorny

    I am so happy and proud to be among the winners of Spotlight Documentary Film Award! Nice festival! Friendly and professional team. This award is important not for me only, but for all Ukrainian filmmakers too. I will recomended all my collegues to participate. I wish good luck to all Spotlight Documentary Film Award team!

    July 2017
  • false
    Katia Cafe-Febrissy

    Thank you to Eric Panter and his programming team. So friendly and supportive. I am thrilled to have won the Silver Spotlight Documentary Award. Such a boost to my filmmaking career! Looking forward to the exposure.

    July 2017
  • false
    Mark Woodcock

    Spotlight Documentary Film Awards -- my first experience using FilmFreeway -- was entirely satisfactory on all counts... Spotlight's online presentation, community and responsiveness were, well, spotless...! I can definitely recommend them as a destination for any documentarians seeking evaluation and recognition of their work...

    July 2017